by Mark H. Sklarow, CEO, Independent Educational Consultants Association
No one knows how many, but probably thousands of high school seniors raise the question of taking a year, before college, to do something else: travel, volunteer, explore. For many parents this instills fear. “Oh honey,” they implore, “that sounds lovely but I’m worried that you’ll never get to college. You can travel later.”
New research suggests that these parents’ fears are misplaced.
To be sure, students use a gap year to better understand themselves, to take a break from academic pressure, and to explore something new. But the real surprise may be in how gap year participants do in college following their year:
- 90% are enrolled in college within a year of their gap experience, making them more likely than peers to attend college. Research shows that these students have a better sense of their own abilities, strengths and areas of weakness and appreciate how a college “fits” these abilities.
- 75% of those who participated in a gap year report to be “happier” or “extremely satisfied” with their career choice after college, with most indicating the gap experience set them in a direction toward their career.
- 88% of gap participants reported that their experienced helped them in their job search, making them more desirable and employable.
Little wonder that universities from Harvard to Princeton to NYU actively encourage admitted students to explore the idea of deferring their start to include a unique educational experience that expands horizons. Increasingly IECs are including a discussion of gap year opportunities while advising students.
IECA, in cooperation with the American Gap Association, will offer a pre-conference workshop, Becoming a Master Gap Year Advisor, at our spring conference in Baltimore. Go to our website for more information and to register.