Gap Year Benefits
Gap Years have numerous benefits, but typically the two most commonly cited reasons for taking a Gap Year are "a desire for increased self-awareness" and to address academic burnout. While much of the data currently cited is based on the UK and Australian models, pioneers in research such as Karl Haigler, Bob Clagett, and Nina Hoe, are now tracking in greater depth the objective benefits for US students taking a Gap Year. These benefits include things such as Paul Tough's work on non-cognitive educational value as predictors for success and the corollary results are proving quite impressive. Additional scholars' work that is being incorporated into the current research include Angela Duckworth, Ph.D. and Nobel Laureate James Heckman, Ph.D.
That being said, there are reams of anecdotal and qualitative data about the myriad benefits of Gap Years. Generally, these include: increased maturity, greater "ownership" of the student's education, increased self-awareness, greater global awareness, fluency in a foreign language, and of course the self-confidence earned from successfully completing a putative Rites of Passage through their Gap Year is consistently listed as one of the enduring benefits.
On an educational level, universities are reporting an increase in GPA, greater engagement in campus life, increased likelihood that students will graduate 'on time' or within four years, and of course greater clarity with career ambitions. Furthermore, students who take a Gap Year are 90% likely to return to university within one year: in essence, Gap Year graduates are MORE likely to attend university than their peers. Gap Year graduates report that through the summary of their new experiences they were better able to identify universities that fit their personalities and career ambitions. Finally, while we don't suggest this as a primary motivation, many students do report that taking a Gap Year enabled them to get into better universities.
On a personal level, students who have completed their Gap Years have reported being as much as 75% more likely to be "happy" or "extremely satisfied" with their careers post-university. On further examination the defining characteristic to their statements seems to be the sense of defining their own version of "success" that typically highly rates service and the commonality of mankind. 60% of Gap year graduates said the experience either "set me on my current career path/academic major" or "confirmed my choice of career/academic major", and 88% said that it added to their employability.
As for the social benefits, one of the most common things heard from Gap Year students is that they actually have something interesting to say . . . in other words, with such a packed year of life-experiences, there's simply much more to share, relate to, and communicate. These personal anecdotes can come out in conversation, in essays, in job applications, podcasts, etc.
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Should students take a gap year?
A gap year is a break student take after high school before joining universities or colleges. After the rigorous training in high schools, some students prefer taking time off by having an active holiday outside a school environment. Some universities recommend the gap year to students joining the schools. After reception of the joining letters, students can always apply for a delay time before their entry in such universities. The delay time is considered by some learners as a way of taking a break from tests, assignments, and homework. A gap year can have its benefits and limitations depending on how one plan the gap year.
A gap year is considered by many students and parents as a recharging period i.e. it’s a time where students replenish their academic desires and efforts. Most students who take the gap year return to classroom environment with vigor and new focus to excel in class. During the gap year, students take their time to look back at their academic life to know the challenges they faced in school and work on how to overcome the challenges. This is a beneficial factor for a gap year as academic performance depends on how best one can focus.
Learning and exploring new activities, e.g. volunteering, taking part in community work, joining local football clubs, learning foreign languages, etc., is also a benefit associated with a gap year. These new activities help students learn new skills applicable to their future lives in college or elsewhere. Working with the community makes students appreciate and understand their culture better. Working with the community and other people also boosts the confidence of students because of working with people of diverse ages and knowledge. Also, traveling and learning new language make students more socialized. All these skills and qualities gained as a result of going abroad or working as volunteer etc. help in dealing with a variety of students in college and also raise ones’ professional experience.
With a gap year, students get the opportunity to work towards the college and course of their desire. A student may be rejected by a university of his desire but the kind of work the student take during the gap year can interest the admission board of the college. For example, a student interested in pursuing a course of community development can get his gap year working for the community as a volunteer; this will interest the admission board as the individual will be considered experienced and relevant to the course.
A gap year can be very destructive to a student’s life if not well planned. A student may involve himself in harmful activities, such as drug abuse, crime, etc. since the student has excess time. This will affect the student negatively to the extent of totally leaving school.
Also, a gap year can lead to some individuals’ academic derailment. People who don’t take some classes during the gap might find academic life hard to bear after the gap. Not taking a few classes will affect their academic performance and focus negatively.
Therefore, before taking a gap year students need to have clear plans on what they want to accomplish during that time. Students need to get engaged during the gap year to avoid negative energy on drugs and crimes. Even, though the students are free from classrooms and exams, they still need to take a few classes during the holidays. This will keep them academically focused. In general, a gap year is relevant to students and students should be encouraged to take it.