All the benefits of taking a gap year blend together and cross over multiple discourses. We have attempted to cut to the chase by sifting and sorting the benefits into academic benefits and softer benefits that shape persona.
A gap year is a structured period of time when students take a break from formal education to increase self-awareness, learn from different cultures, and experiment with possible careers. Typically these are achieved by a combination of traveling, volunteering, interning, or working. A gap year experience can last from two months up to two years and is taken between high school graduation and the Junior year of their higher degree.
- Students who have taken a Gap Year overwhelmingly report being satisfied with their jobs. Upon further inquiry, Haigler found that this was related to a less-selfish approach to working with people and careers. [Karl Haigler, The Gap Year Advantage, independent study of 280 Gap Year students between 1997 - 2006]
- An estimated 5% of four-year colleges and universities have formal policies allowing students to defer admission, up sharply from a few years ago. [Linda DeAngelo, Assistant Research Director for the Higher Education Research Institute]
- 90 percent of students who took a Gap Year returned to college within a year.[http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203513204576047723922275698.html]
- 60 percent of students who took a Gap Year said the time away had either inspired or confirmed their career choice or academic major. [Karl Haigler, The Gap Year Advantage, independent study of 300 Gap Year students between 1997 - 2006]
- In the US, during the 10 years from 1990 - 2000, there was a six-fold increase measured in the number of young people volunteering for programs run by AmeriCorps. [Hoover, 2001]
- Gap Year students are perceived to be 'more mature, more self-reliant and independent' than non-Gap Year students. [Birch, "The Characteristics of Gap-Year Students and Their Tertiary Academic Outcomes", Australia, 2007]
- Taking a 1-year break between high school and university allows 'motivation for and interest in study to be renewed.' [Birch, "The Characteristics of Gap-Year Students and Their Tertiary Academic Outcomes", Australia, 2007]
- Gap Year students show a clear pattern of having higher G.P.A.'s than would otherwise have been predicted, and the positive effect lasts over all four years. [Bob Clagett, Former Dean of Admissions for Harvard and Middlebury Universities, New York Times, "The Choice," December 27, 2011]
- 88 percent of Gap Year graduates report that their Gap Year had significantly added to their employability. [Milkround graduate recruitment Gap year survey, http://www.milkroundonline.com/students-and-graduates]
- Australian students were more likely to take a Gap Year if they had low academic performance and motivation in high school. Yet former "gappers" reported significantly higher motivation in college - in the form of "adaptive behavior" such as planning, task management, and persistence - than did students who did not take a Gap Year. [Martin, Andrew J., "Journal of Educational Psychology", 2008]
- The average total cost of attendance in 2010–11 for first-time, full-time students living on campus and paying in-state tuition was $20,100 at public 4-year institutions and $39,800 at private nonprofit 4-year institutions. [http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cst.asp]
- Approximately 56 percent of male and 61 percent of female first-time, full-time students who sought a bachelor's degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2004 completed their degree at that institution within 6 years. [http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_pgr.asp
- In 2010, young adults ages 25–34 with a bachelor's degree earned 114 percent more than young adults without a high school diploma or its equivalent, 50 percent more than young adult high school completers, and 22 percent more than young adults with an associate's degree. [http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_er2.asp]
- A June 2005 study by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics found that students who delayed enrolling in college were less likely to earn a postsecondary credential than those who went directly from high school to college. However, the Department of Education study included all students who didn't go directly to college; it did not examine the experiences of gap-year students who elect to temporarily postpone college and have a specific plan for that time. Haigler's study, although smaller by comparison, specifically considers that group. And his study found that the majority of students who take an intentional, planned gap year return to school to continue their studies. [http://www.bls.gov/opub/ooq/2009/fall/art04.pdf
GAP YEAR BENEFITS
- Develop cross-cultural understanding and competence through cultural immersion.
- Learn how to communicate when there are different basic vocabularies as a vital tool gained on a Gap Year.
- Creative problem solving as a form of taking any challenging situation and turning it into an opportunity - much like a broken down bus in transit, a cultural misstep, or simply being sick while on a Gap Year.
- Understand how different environments inform cultural foundation and shape relationships among the earth and community living.
- Internationalize perspective on 'living', how it is done and what is viewed as successful in other cultures. Experience all of the different ways to do this thing called life.
- Evaluate personal values and identify one's own best way of living.
- Create one's own version of "success" rather than acquiesce to that offered by running the routine.
- Exploring comfort zones and the self by doing something challenging. Pushing comfort zones allows one to better understand the self and truly know what they are capable of.
- Laugh at the many cultural-difference- snafu's (e.g. finding out you just told your host family that you are "pregnant" instead of "embarrassed").
- A well-structured gap year program can be part of the lifelong education process and can induce a profound contribution to an individual's personal development.
- Increased ownership for one's own life direction.
- Understand what it means to be a global citizen and own the responsibility that it means in an increasingly multicultural landscape.
- Working in groups. In today's work environment, people who work best with others - denoted often times as Emotional Intelligence (EQ rather than IQ) - tend to be more successful. In all regards, a Gap Year will challenge the student to work better with a more diverse array of people.
- Gap Years often solve issues of academic burnout with healthy choices and satisfy multiple learning types.
- Identify and eliminate interests to best direct a major study that results in a deeply invested college-to-career future.
- Re-ignite a sense of curiosity for learning, through real life situations and exploring possible careers through hands on field-work. Take a student out of "park" and helps to put them into "drive."
- Go to college with a purpose, not arbitrarily because it is what society recommends.
- Gaining immersed linguistic experience, and possible fluency.
- Students who take a gap year tend to get into better schools. Universities recognize that students who have completed a gap year will be more invested, will apply themselves to civic engagement and have better GPA's. Students often will use their Gap Year to speak to admissions essays, and even clearly identify their university preferences having gained clarity and sense of purpose.
- Gap year alumni are more likely to be supported with scholarships to engage in further civic engagement, national and international university studies.
- Gap year alumni are provided with practical field experience that is applied and referenced to university learning.
- Gap Year students have an opportunity to apply the past 12 years of academic classroom knowledge to relevant experiences and studies - thus gaining clarity about career ambitions both favorable and unfavorable.
- Field experience and cross-cultural understanding sets gap year graduates ahead of other employee applicants.
- Universities mostly understand that students who have completed a Gap Year will be more invested, better community members, and have better employability partially as a result of their Gap Year.
- Gap year alumni often will use their immersion experience to fuel better admissions essays, and even change their major focus of study having gained clarity and purpose.