But What About College?
When I was considering a gap year my family and friends all had the same question: “What about college?”. I have since had a full gap year, a BA in Sociology and an MA in Applied Theatre. I’ve been an educator since my gap year days, which really helped me to fully understand that this was my passion. As an educator I’ve often had conversations with parents of young people considering taking a gap year. They worry about academic achievement, about being ’behind’ your age group, about somehow being late to college and ‘missing the train’ of success.
You may say: Alumni of gap programs and the staff who curate them have nothing but amazing things to say, but their experience is obviously subjective. They don’t know what they missed. The former gappers of Glen Brook say the had a deeply personal experience of growth and learning but how does that translate to real world skills and traditional success?
The Gap Year Association has published new research answering these question with real data tracking Alumni of gap programs over time. You can read the full finding here, but what follows are the main points.
Gap Year alums overperformed academically consistently through all 4 years of college compared to their own predicted performance based on their academic rating. In one study the motivation from a Gap Year translated into a major boost in the first semester of university in comparison with other students.
Students who took a Gap Year are also reporting more satisfaction with their jobs and believe they are more employable. This may be the effect of learning to live with others, becoming less selfish and self absorbed and outgrowing a feeling of entitlement.
Gap Year students are more motivated, less likely to experience burnout and more ready to commit to a major and specific long term path.
Whether their gap year has enforced what they were already passionate about or helped them discover new interests, gappers enter college with a better understanding of who they are and what they want, translating into stronger, lasting choices. It has been over a decade since I did my gap year and I can still see it’s direct impact on everything from my career path to the way I manage my funds and most importantly the way I communicate and connect with others.
Shai Rosenfeld, Outdoor Educator