Advertising

The Seattle Times Company

NWjobs | NWautos | NWhomes | NWsource | Free Classifieds | seattletimes.com

Education


Our network sites seattletimes.com | Advanced

Originally published Friday, October 27, 2006 at 12:00 AM

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

Making the gap year work

On its face, a "gap year" — a break between high-school graduation and freshman year involving work, travel or volunteering —...

Special to The Seattle Times

On its face, a "gap year" — a break between high-school graduation and freshman year involving work, travel or volunteering — sounds appealing.

But whether this hiatus breaks students' momentum or jump-starts their initiative is a question parents, students and even college experts wrestle with.

Many colleges allow a gap year by offering deferred admission, holding a student's spot for one year after acceptance. It's a common practice in many European countries, and officials at some Ivy League schools even endorse a gap year. Advocates consider the year away valuable time to mature and gain "real-world" perspective.

Delaying can derail you

But one long-term study at Johns Hopkins University shows putting off freshman year for any reason can hurt a student in the long run.

"On average, any kind of delay is a bad thing," says Stefanie DeLuca, assistant professor of sociology and co-author of a report that tracked thousands of students up to eight years after high school. And that includes those who take a year off to sock away money for college expenses.

It's particularly a problem, she found, for those who delay college enrollment by more than one year: They're 64 percent less likely to complete their bachelor's degree than those who head straight to college.

On the other hand, she says, "You're going to have kids who are going to take a year off and do just fine. We do see it. A gap year is not a nail in the coffin."

What's the key?

advertising

The success stories

Successful gap-year students are ready with firm plans about how to be useful during their break, she says. As others like to put it, it's the difference between taking a year off and taking a year on.

Economics play a part, though. DeLuca notes that kids from poor and working-class families can't afford to take advantage of gap-year experiences that could be enriching but don't pay well. That effectively limits just how widespread the gap-year phenomenon can become.

"Middle- and upper-class kids may fall back on the excuse, 'I'm exploring my identity,' but this is an opportunity that is as not as common as people think," DeLuca says. "Taking a year off to explore France or work in the inner city? Most people don't have these options. Life doesn't work that way."

E-mail E-mail article      Print Print      Share Share

More Education

UPDATE - 10:51 PM
Seattle Public Schools name interim financial officer

Jerry Large: It's time to change Seattle schools superintendent's job

OMG! Text lingo appearing in schoolwork

STEM grants help attract more students to sciences

Former Seattle schools attorney reverses course, offers to talk with scandal investigator

More Education headlines...


Get home delivery today!

Video

Advertising

AP Video

Entertainment | Top Video | World | Offbeat Video | Sci-Tech

Marketplace

LeBron James plugs Kia K900; Tesla Model X delay likelynew
(Kia) LeBron James teams with Kia Basketball star LeBron James has partnered with Kia to promote the K900, the brand's first rear-drive luxury sedan. ...
Post a comment

Advertising