August 6, 2007

Gap Year finally coming to America

Posted in Graduate Students, Misc tagged , , , at 7:50 AM by College Admissions

I wondered how long it would take this trend to reach our shores. I lived in Britain from 2003 to 2004 and the “Gap Year” is quite prevalent there! A lot of university students are expecting to take a year off before entering university. It’s a year for exploration and self study, mostly. Kids travel a lot, volunteer in foreign countries, do internships at a relevant business in their own country – contrary to what some believe, most UK students do not just go party for a year.

I wish I’d had a gap year. I’m a computer science person who loves history and anthropology – the latter aren’t very prevalent in my daily life, as you can imagine. I would have loved to take a year and work abroad building my independence social and language skills. For additional advice, check out Gap Year Planner

Read the whole article from the Washington Post here.

More Are Taking a Rain Check on College
By Ian Shapira

Washington Post Staff Writer -Sunday, August 5, 2007; Page C01

Billy Neville was flipping through the humongous Fiske Guide to Colleges last fall, yet another senior at a pressure-cooker high school in search of a game plan, when his mother told him something unexpected.

“She said, ‘Keep in mind, you don’t really have to go to college next year. You can do something fun,’ ” recalled Neville, 18, who graduated in June from Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda. “I genuinely liked that idea, but I didn’t know how serious she was and how well a year off would work. But I started looking at the idea, and it looked better than going to college because I didn’t know what I wanted to do at college.”

Ultimately, Neville was accepted at Miami University of Ohio. But he deferred enrollment for a year, joining the ranks of maverick students who take a “gap year” — time off between high school and college. Some do it to find enlightenment and introspection, others to learn something new or pursue a passion.

There are no hard counts of gap-year students, but the National Association for College Admission Counseling in Alexandria reports anecdotal evidence from counselors that more high school graduates these days are seeking a year off. Gap-year consultants who charge $1,000 or more to advise students on how to fill the time have emerged.

Some students say they take a gap year to escape stress accumulated from Advanced Placement courses and competition over grades and class rank.

“I grew really tired of everything in school. I just didn’t like the atmosphere, especially at Whitman, where if you’re not an overachiever, then you’re just . . . I don’t know,” Neville said. “So, I was hoping, in my year off, I’ll find out what really interests me.”

Neville asked for his deferral in a letter to the admissions office. “And they came right back, saying, ‘Sure,’ ” said his mother, Clare Neville.

Ann Larson, a senior associate director of admissions at Miami of Ohio, said the university grants deferrals for medical issues, military service, study abroad and other reasons on a case-by-case basis.

“We really have no problem with students taking gap years,” Larson said. “It’s very positive what they bring back to the university. It’s a maturing experience.”

College admissions officers said they want gap-year students to improve upon an area of expertise or perform some kind of public service. John Blackburn, dean of admissions at University of Virginia, said students often seek deferrals for missionary work or public service jobs through such nonprofit organizations as Operation Smile, which performs free reconstructive surgery on children born with facial deformities in developing countries. Admissions officials at Georgetown University estimated that 25 to 30 students admitted each year in a class of almost 1,600 ask for a deferral, requesting trips abroad to learn a foreign language, intern at a foreign embassy, or even work at a foreign or domestic magazine.

Charles Deacon, Georgetown‘s admissions director, said: “Students have to have a plan that we approve of. Mostly it’s for some type of cultural enhancement.”

Read the whole article here.