Article Reviews

What is a Gap Year and Where Did It all Start? Essay

Posted on

With school supplies in hand each year like the annual migration of birds, student return to school. With growing pressure placed on this generation over previous, creating a burnout in students and limiting the full potential that could be reached is a common concern. The studying, test and exams have finished yet students continue straight from high school to college. Have you ever wondered why you must be returning to school each year in a process that has been non-stop since you were 5 years old and when do I get a change? A gap year can provide that change, considered to be a break in education between high school and university .

Students from the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia have encouraged students to take a year away from the education system to learn about themselves or to explore other parts of the world that they may not have seen before. The trend is now becoming a new normal or acceptable here in the United States. The most traditional gap year is taken by students between the graduation of high school and the first year of college. The term now is much broader and can refer to a break between college semesters and graduate school. 960’s United Kingdom can be credited with the creation of the Gap Year. While the origin of the term “gap year” is not definite but a company formed in the United Kingdom called GAP Activity Projects that placed students in volunteer projects for their Gap Year which brought the idea of taking a year off to students is considered by some as the home or origin of the term gap year. Traditionally, the trips started off as individuals traveling to India on so called Hippie Trails, sometimes they would meet other travels and join together on their travels.

The growth of independent travel continued to steadily grow in the 1970’s and business soon began to cater to this growing market. One of the first companies started in London is Top Deck Travel, founded in 1973 by Australian Graham Turner, he took paying individuals on a double decker bus to Kathmandu. Tony Wheeler, a young British student the same year created the Lonely Planet brand travel books when he needed to find basic information on Asia and he could not find a suitable option. Now with tour companies, and travel advice books a need with help to book trips was still present.

STA Travel, was the first travel agency created to cater to those under the age of 26 allowing them the opportunity to book world wide travel. In the 80’s and 90’s the gap year started to change. Backpacking became a popular, cheap form of travel. This cool independent form of travel was easier and cheaper so as airfare prices fell the gap year became a rite of passage for many students. Today, the gap year has transformed from traveling around the world to include working with charity organizations, volunteering, study abroad as well as working towards saving money.

In most cases it does not matter what you do with your time off, the importance is that you are taking the break and that you are spending it in a meaningful way. One of the reasons for taking a gap year is to assist with offsetting the cost of going to college. In recent years, there has been a decline in the funds available in financial aid. An advantage of waiting between high school and college is that a student is able to work and if able to live at home then saving money for college is possible.

During this time at work, students are also able to take advantage and network with future employees and colleagues. Graduating from college many individuals find themselves under a mountain of student debt, a gap year between high school and college or between college semesters can be an opportunity to earn money to put towards tuition or other cost. Bored and burned out is a feeling shared by many students at graduation from high school. The gap year provides a longer break and relief from the pressures of going into a higher level of schooling after having only a few months off.

Moving away from academics and being allowed to focus on other aspects of their life it can improve their motivation and dedication when they do return to school. All students are different and those that did not apply themselves during high school and graduated with a low GPA, a year off can be use the time off to become more mature and learn through working and dedication that it can pay off. While a majority of students are ready to join colleges, but others may be overwhelmed or unprepared to be away from home or dealing with the larger number of students that are on campuses.

The rooted ideals of graduation in spring followed by college in early fall is the convention of students in the United States. However, the idea from across pond on pursuing interest after high school is starting to uproot the once steady stream of students. The founder of gapyear. com, Tom Griffiths, has been quoted as saying “The U. S. is viewed in our sector as the sleeping giant,” with the “potential to surpass the rest of the world in numbers and possibly spending within the next five years. ” The limitation of one’s imagination is the only thing that holds back on what to do with having a year off.

The time off should not be spent sitting on a couch watching the world pass you by but rather pursuing self-enrichment with volunteering, study abroad programs or personal travel can cost … While individuals from Europe that have been growing up with the gap year as being a normal part of adulthood, Americans tend to Reasons for taking a gap year vary, in one report Owen Henry of Waterford, Va. , opted in 2007 to take a gap year when he received a pile of college rejection letters. Henry’s personal goals were to gain experience for work, be challenged as an individual and develop academic goals.

After participating in a program designed for American Students at the Oxford University in London, England he spent under $10,000 and decided to pursue a career in becoming an Arabic translator. This example show how taking a gap year, students cultivate their future education plans as well as discover where their talent and interest are. College admissions offices are beginning to recognize the benefits that a gap year provides to students. Once a student is accepted at many university’s they can request a deferral, most are willing to approve these request if what the student is proposing is worthwhile.

Middlebury College located in Vermont, show that students that take a gap year have a higher grade point average then those that do not. The positive attribute of taking the gap year lasted over the course of their program at the college. The baby boomer generation that are writing the tuition checks are now becoming more open about the gap year then there parents. Many feel that it makes sense for a student to explore their options prior to freshman year as they are less likely to change majors repeatedly and skip classes due to excessive partying.

Recent data from the National Center for Education cites that only 35 percent of students graduate in four year, and a college consultant in Cape Code Brian R. Hopewell has stated that 30 percent of freshman do not move past their freshman year of high school. A Boston consulting firm Taking Off, has helped coordinate gap year travel for many students and have found that many students gain valuable skills while earning and handling money during the year. Gap year programs can start at $10,000 and exceed over $20,000 dependent on the students plan.

Foreign travel can increase expenses with the purchase of needed insurance and visas. However, programs are available to students that offer room and board in exchange for work. In Vermont a school for the deaf offers the chance to learn American Sign Language and in exchange for working they receive room and board. Options abroad include working with a program called Willing Workers on Organic Farms; those that take part in the program are able to work on farms for room and board.

They also have the opportunity to work with others from around the worlds that are also participating in this program. A survey of 280 American students conducted by the coauthor of The Gap-Year Advantage Karl Haigler found that about 60 percent of those were affected positively in either their college major or career. A welcomed break by many students that are engaging in activities catered to their interest or career goals can be frustrating to those that do not have a plan or have lofty plans to spend their time but end up watching television on the couch.

Often complaints from those that say their year was unfulfilling and regretted their choice in taking a year were those that did not have a plan to take part in planning on pursuing interest in working, travel, volunteer programs or an extracurricular. If there is no idea there are companies that provide advice and services, fees may apply on some websites but many colleges are offering advice on what to do during a gap year. A benefit that students find after taking a year off is that they are able to focus and have renewed passion for academics.

While some worry that taking a break from education may be detrimental, often that is not the case and they are eager to attend classes again. Rising gap year participation With an increasing inconsistent and competitive job market an increasing number of students that have just graduated are opting to plan and participate in a gap year as oppose to entering into the workplace. While many believe that gap years are for upper – middle class individuals there is an increasing number of those from lesser backgrounds joining in on the advantages that are offered in a gap year.

Who needs a gap year? Students are drawn to take a break from education beyond those that are seeking a “break”. While college is expected to be the next step often students do not have a passion for their major or an understanding of how classes in college will relate to their personal goals in life or career. Participating in a gap year can make the difference between floating through college and switching majors which can be costly or graduating successfully with possible credit earned while on a gap year.

A 2008 New York Times article interviewed an academic director at City University of New York, Kim Hartswick helps students asses their pasts and determines which course subjects they have mastered. A students who had founded a nonprofit organization to beautify hospitals and schools was given 15 credits for web page design, creative arts in the classroom and fund raising/development. At City University of New York, the maximum life credit awarded to students would be fifteen credits. Each year the graduating class has at least 10 percent of students that have received some life experience credit.

Kim Hartswick says of the applications received “People don’t realize how much they’ve learned until they really begin reviewing their lives. ” The National Research Center for College and University Admissions estimates that over 50% of students will switch majors at least once. This statistic supports the fact that many students do not have an idea of what their interests are before attending college. Taking a year to explore interest can make economic sense when factoring a cost of a year of college in relation to a gap year.

Wish to decide on your major, clarify aspirations No idea what major you want to pursue? A gap year can allow you to find your academic focus before you start your degree program. Gaining work experience or an internship in a field may help. Perhaps you can take community college or online courses to learn more about a particular field of study. The National Research Center for College and University Admissions (NRCCUA) estimates that over 50% of students switch majors at least once.

These statistics underscore the fact that most students have not been able to sufficiently clarify their interests before matriculating in college. It can make real economic sense for students to explore their interests through a gap year of varied experiences. Want to continue your college search If you weren’t accepted into your top schools or didn’t find the college of your dreams during your college search, use a gap year to continue your college search for the right school. Consider taking classes, improving your SAT/ACT scores and planning a meaningful gap year to strengthen your college application.

You can reapply to colleges and universities to start in January or the following September. Lacking confidence & maturity Being on your own in your gap year can not only be fun but will also help you build your self-confidence and maturity level. Look at the gap year as a positive transition from family home to college dorm life. Need to improve on a lackluster record If you didn’t perform up to your potential in high school, the additional year can be used to take college courses where you can prove you are capable of handling college level work.

Must earn money for school More than ever, college is expensive. Rather than take on large loan debt, working a year could help you earn money to help pay for college. Desire time to pursue a long-time passion Always wanted to master the sitar? View first hand Asian art? Learn about sustainable farming? A gap year can give you the chance to focus and achieve something that has always needed to stay on the ‘back Benefits to employers Not long ago, gap years by many adults were considered a opportunity to “goof” off for a year.

Now many are learning the opportunities that are provided in a gap year can develop skills that are not taught in a classroom environment. The student may have the chance to perfect the foreign language they have been studying in school. Gain work experience either at home or Employers are also beginning to understand the added value that those that have taken a gap year offers. Academic ability is now equal to the job skills an applicant can bring to the job. Those that have moved ut of their box or comfort zone are more likely to have a greater capacity to problem solve quickly as well as having flexibility. Glenn Willcox, Human Resources manager for a resort based in Florida said “That with an increasing number of applicants applying for the same job, If I notice that someone has choose to take a break in education and participate in either a internship or volunteer project. I will more likely interview that candidate as they have developed a wider range of skills not taught in college. ” Another example of a college working with students that wish to take gap year is Harvard.

They will offer admitted students the option defer enrollment for one year to spend it in an another meaningful way. Harvard classifies meaningful purposes as travel, work or pursuing a special project or activity. One average 50-70 students choose the option provided to defer their first year. The Fallout Students are increasingly becoming stressed under the growing pressures that society has placed on them, in response colleges have seen a higher number of students engage in binge drinking or other destructive behavior. Some Early Remedies Stepping away from the expectations and being able to direct focus toward individual pursuits and gain personal perspective and values they will be able to collect themselves for their next school year . Taking Time Off Before or During College The Crimson the student newspaper at Harvard, reported (5/19/2000) that students who had taken a year off found the experience “so valuable that they would advise all Harvard students to consider it. With among the highest graduation rate in the country, this could be in part to there open policy about students taking time off. Some Options for the Interim Year Options available to students is as vast as ones imagination. Reactions to the Year Off Life changing and valuable is a few of the phrases students use when speaking of there time spent. Many feel that what they learned is immeasurable and will continue to pay forward into their adult lives.

However, parents often worry that their child will not want to return once they have left college or that they will fall behind. This is rarely the case and in some cases students have been admitted to colleges that they were once waitlisted or denied in part to what they did during their time off. Growing up in today is very different then it once was, Thinking back to the days of long haired hippies boarding a bus and traveling the winding dirt roads to India, they wanted to find themselves and grow as individuals, gaining new experiences is what the gap years develops.