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Getting on With College: Arguments Against a Gap Year

In recent years, it has become fashionable for families to consider a “gap year” for graduating high school seniors in which they take a year off prior to entering college to travel or participate in community service activities. A cottage industry of books, advisors, and even
“gap year” scholarships have emerged to promote and support this ostensibly maturing experience. Little has been written, however, about the down-side of not heading off to college once you complete high school. Once size does not fit all, and a “gap year” can have an adverse impact on some students. Concerns about the repercussions of “gap years” follow.

First, for those in cumulative disciplines such as science, math, and languages a year away from focused study can hinder your ability to master them. Noble intentions may not make up for a sustained period of time away from core academic subjects.

Secondly, for students who lack focus and a sense of purpose, a year removed from studies may have little impact on their overall motivational level. A sense of commitment to academic pursuits generally comes from within, a state of affairs which is not fostered over a calendar year removed from academia.

Third, your longer term earning potential is hurt every time you take time off from picking up the academic skills which are a pre-condition for success in the job market.

Finally, in an increasingly degree conscious society, the most logical period to take time off is between undergraduate and graduate school. You will then have a stronger skill base for the job market, and some professional graduate programs as business look favorably on experience acquired in the work place.

While the “in crowd” may be enamored with “gap years,” it may be of little utility once you decide to pursue undergraduate studies and move into the work force beyond.

David Dickson is an admissions expert for Top Test Prep which provides test preparation to help students gain admissions to top private schools, colleges, and graduate schools. Call 800-501-7737 to learn more.