As the school year winds down and students are beginning to look at the next steps of their academic life, many are looking at the possibility of taking a gap year. But the stigma associated with taking a gap year is still real and present in the minds of students and parents.
Will they ever go back to school?
Will they fall behind?
How can we afford it?
No one else is doing this at my school, I’m the WEIRD one.
These are just a few comments we keep hearing when we present the idea of a gap year to students and families around the country. So let’s answer a few of these concerns with real data.
The notion that a gap year is something that’s on the sideline is just simply not true. Year on year the gap year industry continues to grow at an average of 20%. This is a real growth pattern that shows the changing trends in our education system.
Of course several schools like Harvard, Tufts, and Princeton have advocated for gap years for incoming students in the past. And we’re watching as state schools are coming to the table realizing that gap students are focused, engaged, and bringing a sphere of experience to the table of educational discussion.
Here at the KIVU Gap Year, we’ve quantified nearly 100% of our students that graduate from the program go to attend an institution of higher learning. Some attend the schools they deferred from the beginning, while others apply for new schools that tailor to their new found passions. The American Gap Association has also posted their research, finding overall 90% of all gap students go on to higher learning after their experience.
The idea that a gap year is something of a strange deviation from academic life is quite frankly an urban myth not reflected in the actual numbers.
The impacts of taking a gap year can’t be overstated. From personal reflection to finding actual purpose in life, a gap year provides students with a needed break from what our industry calls “academic burn out.” And you can see it in every high school in America.
Students have been called to memorize and regurgitate information for years. Learning has become a process of memorization instead of putting concepts together to form new ideas. Of course this is a stereotypical view of current education, and there are millions of teachers who see education as a place of learning and not memorization; but ask your local average high school student today conceptual questions about your expert field, and you’ll see what I mean.
A Gap Year helps round out a student’s comprehensive life. It’s a foundation that awakens the passion inside students so they can go on to be productive in their field of study.
One student I spent time with recently was interested in language acquisition. He had spent years studying spanish in high school and a few semesters in college. When he actually traveled to a Spanish speaking country, he was overwhelmed. The language used on the ground with real people in real experiences was entirely different than the countless vocabulary tests he took as a student in the classroom.
Of course the classroom is important to start building a tool box of competency, but if students never have the chance to get their tools in the game, they miss out on what real life looks like.
So if you’re on the fence for your next steps in your academic life, just spend a second reviewing the opportunities a gap year can afford you. This survey was presented in 2015 by the American Gap Association in conjunction with research from Dr. Nina Hoe from Temple University.
There are so many reasons for taking a gap year, and if you notice, one of the smallest circles of reason in the chart above is “Not Admitted to University of Choice”.
A gap year is not a second option to fall back on. As a matter of fact, as the gap year industry continues to grow, more and more students are finding the added value of taking a gap year for intentional growth purpose.
Here at the KIVU Gap Year, we would encourage you to take a step back from formal academia. The university isn’t going anywhere. It will be available for you any time. But this moment in your life when you have time, resource, and the sense of adventure to explore your career paths; this moment is a fleeting time period. One year of your life will fly by, and you’ll be glad you took the time to invest in your future.
*All images and surveys are taken from the American Gap Association website where thorough research on the gap year experience continues to grow.