Is a Gap Year right for you?

That is the question being posed in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal. As young people across the country are looking towards graduation and what they plan on doing after they walk across the stage, it is an important question to ponder.

It used to be frowned upon for young people to “take time off” before heading to college. Parents worry that their children will go off track and never continue their education. But as more and more young people are getting involved in service, colleges are starting to take note.

Many colleges (including Princeton) actually encourage students to defer enrollment for a year or two to pursue other opportunities.

This article reported that:

  • A recent survey of 300,000 first-time freshmen at four-year colleges and universities found 1.2% waited a year to enter college.
  • Taking a gap year is linked to higher motivation in college, according to an Australian study of 2,502 students published in August in the Journal of Educational Psychology.
  • 5% of four-year colleges and universities have formal policies allowing students to defer admission.
  • 90% of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year.

There are plenty of opportunities to take a gap year. Last year I attended a gap year fair where I represented City Year. Many of the opportunities there were service based, but a lot of them cost thousands of dollars. Luckily, there are programs out there like City Year that give you the opportunity to take the time you need to figure out what you want to do with your life all while giving back to the community, developing as a leader and earning money for college.

When I graduated from college in 2009, I knew that I wanted to get a job and go to graduate school… but not right then. City Year was the perfect chance for me to move to a new city, meet new people and do some pretty incredible work. I wholly believe that my time at City Year was completely necessary for me to truly figure out what it was I wanted to do with my life and I am forever grateful.

As I’m filling out graduate school applications and looking into job opportunities for after my senior corps year with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley, I know that I can do pretty much whatever I want in life. And that’s all thanks to my “gap year.”

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