Many educationists view modern students as having many educational pressures placed on them by parents and interested community members. Fitzsimmons et al (2010) posits, “The pressures on today’s students is a concern to many of us, as they seem far intense than those placed on previous generations” (para.1). Burnout largely curtails the students’ endeavors to achieve their full potential in career life.
They have areas that best suits their talents. Therefore, I would incredibly support the idea of taking time off before joining colleges or universities upon graduating from high school. By the time the students join these institutions, they are sure and decided of what they want to achieve out of their lives. I would go as far as persuading the available academic institutions to make it a compulsory issue for all American high school graduates.
Harvard, Princeton, MIT and many more popular and prestigious institutions of higher learning encourage students to take some time off after clearing high school before joining college or university. Australian institutions also encourage it. In fact, it has become almost a rite of passage marking the transition between high school life and college life.
In America, the trend is following slightly right behind Australia. Why is this necessary? Some high school graduates are either not ready to start college life immediately. They are in burn out state. In addition, a good number of the students are strongly inclined to the idea of pursuing a myriad of interests before finally settling on what to do in college or at the university.
As Wood laments, “instead of packing their bags in anticipation of freshman year, they are volunteering in New Orleans or teaching in Thailand, thus, starting the renowned American novel, or interning to help figure out what they want to do with their lives” (2008, Para.4). They, thus, advocate for the achievement of what is best for them in the shortest time. However, I immensely campaign for a gap year. As Wood observes, “Taking a gap year can make kids focused and ready for the rigors of academic life” (2008, Para.2).
What matters is the student to complete college, not to enroll. Research reveals how prepared students have higher rates of completing college. Harvard perhaps knows this well. Princeton, on the other hand, has this idea in the design of bridge year program, which allows their newly enrolled students to “spend a year performing public service abroad before beginning their freshman year” (Wood, 2008, Para.6). Do parents need to panic about enrollment then?
A year out gives a student ample time to contemplate and reflect what is legitimate or unsuitable for him or her. Students deserve to consider a myriad of things before entering college or universities. As Peterson (2011) comments, “As students consider their future following high school, they should spend some time doing a bit of self-analysis” (Para.7).
This implies that a year off allows them to have adequate time to reflect and analyze their strengths and weakness. They stand a chance to make subtle decisions on what they deserve to pursue. While doing this, and according to Peterson (2010), students need to ask themselves a number of questions: “How does college fit into their future plans? Are they ready for the challenges and opportunities of college? Do they have a sense of the right kinds of college environments for themselves?” (Para.8).
In addition, many educationists view those students taking years off as having a higher motivation coupled with immense capacity to deal with the odds of success in college levels. As a way of example, the Harvard University records high graduation rate of 98% (Fitzsimmons et al, 2010, Para.13). Chiefly, one can attribute this to their recommendations for students to consider taking a year off before joining the institution.
Considering the options to take a year off after graduating from high school relies on the need to achieve exemplary results based on the provisions of opportunities to reflect on what one truly wants to do in the future. He/she can use such time to accomplish other noble skills.
As a way of example, “some students, particularly those whose families have a tradition of serving in the military, will join the armed forces after high school” (MacDonald, 2009, Para.7). This is an initial step for such students to build on their skills with particular merits of helping students discover their amplitudes. The benefits include financial aspects, as it helps students save money for the future anticipated life: college life.
In addition to joining military during such time, a student may “participate in a number of things such as community service, working, traveling, high-level athletics, performing arts, and or music” (Shellenberger, 2010, p.13). These activities aid the students to discover themselves. The additional discovery aids in making sure that the students set, and select those areas of specialization consistent with their talents and future anticipations.
This argument advocates for the capacity of the year out promoting attempts to self-discover self. Majority of colleges advocates for gap years people only to indulge in those activities that are consistent with their passions. Scott posits that whether “music, community service, travel, or sports, colleges want students to focus on one or more interests dedicating themselves to them” (2009, Para.1).
This way, they can perhaps attempt to establish a link between their future endeavors and those extracurricular activities, in which they have talents. In fact, all the tasks that a student indulges in during the gap year go a long way in helping a student to improve his/her probabilities of success in the college life to follow afterwards. Therefore, “For students who have never been away from home, gap-year travel or study abroad could help cultivate an ability to manage independently to adapt to different cultures” (Patterson, 2009, Para.2).
More often, degree students would find themselves in the management positions in the future. Adopting dimensions of multicultural experiences would position them well to incorporate such perspectives in their college learning. This is especially vital bearing in mind that globalization of organizations has made rigid calls for future managers to embrace multi-ethnic minds and cultural diversification.
In the light of the incredible benefits of taking a year out on the student’s side, other interested members of the society normally receive such a decision with differing views. As Fitzsimmons (2010) notes, “Students often want to follow friends on safer and more familiar paths while parents worry that their sons and daughters…may never enroll” (Para.15) in college.
These worries rely on the perception that, considering a decision to take a year out may have negative effects to a student’s study skills. Unfortunately, there is no justification of this fear. Educationists serving the interests of the students who have taken a year out provide reassurance for the benefits of the decisions to take a year out by far outweigh the voiced risks. “Occasionally, students admitted to Harvard or other colleges in part accomplish something unusual during a year off” (Shellenberger, 2010, p.13).
However, taking a year out does not increase one’s chances or competiveness for joining an institution of higher learning. The benefits of taking a year out are to facilitate the student to have higher completion rates. They hike his or her college life coping skills. They rather not increase joining probabilities. Such probabilities are dependent of high school performance.
The time spent during a year out upon graduating from high school helps a student to broadening up his or her perspectives concerning his or her future dreams. Through considering the benefits of taking a year out, the paper advocates for such a decision to the level that the author feels that not all institutions of higher learning should admit fresh graduates who have not taken a year out.
If they have to, then they need to incorporate a compulsory one-year service work training their students before they are ready to start their first year. In fact, the author concurs with Wood’s opinion that “Sending a kid who is not ready to college is like sending a kid who is not feeling hungry to an all-you-can-eat buffet” (2008, Para.5). Do parents need to harry up driving their high school graduate kids to college while not maintaining blindness to the benefits of a gap year?
Fitzsimmons, W., McGrath, M., & Charles, D. (2010). Timeout Out or Burn Out For the Next Generation. Retrieved from
< http://www.admissions.college.harvard.edu/apply/time_off/index.html >.
MacDonald, G. (2009). Gap Year Before College Gives Grads Valuable Life Experience. Retrieved from
< http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/2008-06-18-gap-year_N.htm >.
Patterson, T. (2009). Ten Good Reasons to Take a Gap Year before College. Retrieved from
< http://matadornetwork.com/abroad/10-good-reasons-to-take-a-gap-year-before-college/ >.
Peterson. (2011). Should You Take a Gap Year Before College and Explore Alternatives? Retrieved from
Scott, D. (2009). Tools and Guides for Taking a Gap Year before College. Retrieved from
< http://www.onlinedegreeprograms.com/blog/2009/100-tips-tools-and-guides-for-taking-a-gap-year-before-college/ >.
Shellenberger, S. (2010). Delaying College to Fill the Gaps. Wall Street Journal, 2(1), 1-23.
Wood, D. (2008). Should your kid have a ‘gap year’ before college? Retrieved from