BY BEATRICE DUPUY
The end of senior year is when the waiting game for college is finally over. It’s when seniors have decided where they’re spending the next four years of their lives. However, for some seniors, that decision may not involve college. Many students are deciding to put their college career on hold and gain a non-traditional secondary educational experience. These individuals are choosing to defer enrollment in favor of a gap-year and are traveling, volunteering, or working instead of hitting the books. Parents generally frown upon taking a gap-year; however, it is an enriching opportunity that all students should experience before being locked into another four years of rigorous schooling.
A gap-year is no longer just a blow-off year, but a way to obtain an education out of the confines of the college setting. While parents may disapprove of this trend, Ivy League colleges have already taken notice and are promoting the gap-year experience to accepted students. Princeton University has created a “bridge year” program that allows a select group of accepted students to spend a year abroad performing public service, before their freshman year. Even Harvard advocates that students take a gap-year and each year around 50 and 70 students defer their enrollment to Harvard. If these innovative and ground-breaking institutions are promoting this growing trend, then why aren’t more colleges taking notice and offering these experiences to their admitted students.
Gap-years provide students with the opportunity to discover themselves and their potential majors before attending college. Rather than have students thrust into the real world after college graduation without any real-world experience, students who chose to take a gap-year will have experience many of their peers could only obtain after they leave college.
Even though a gap-year may seem to be a costly option for some students, in reality it helps students save money. Students who chose to get a leg up on their career by taking a gap-year have the opportunity to earn some money to help their parents fund their college education. Also, it helps students decide what they really want to do. So when their child, like most college students, decides halfway through college to change their major, then parents are not stuck footing the bill on unneeded classes.
Some parents may argue that by giving students a year to do what they want, they might choose to not go to college at all, but in reality it all depends on the type of student. Thus, for students undecided on their major a gap-year could allow them to broaden their horizons with practical experience before spending all of their parent’s money. Also, it can provide students with a sense of clarity about whether college is right for their future, in effect making their college experiences even better, as they’ll know it is where they truly want to be.
Furthermore, countries outside of the U.S. have been giving their students the gap-year option for decades. These colleges in countries like Britain and Australia know that students who take gap-years are more prepared for college and more mature than their peers.
Although the gap-year may not be for everyone, students who do take a year off are looking to for an experience that they won’t obtain from the sororities, fraternities, and other clubs at their college. Overall, people who choose to take a gap year are exemplary students and more students should follow their lead in actualizing their dreams now instead of waiting until after college to start them.