More students, and colleges, consider the benefits of gap years
- Many colleges now encourage admitted students to defer enrollment for a year and engage in volunteer, work or travel experiences while releasing some of the stress of high school.
- The Associated Press reports gap years are more common among higher-income families, but some colleges have begun to offer financial aid packages that make travel a possibility for students from low-income families.
- While plenty of universities do not allow deferred enrollment, those that do allow it — or even encourage it — require students to explain their plans for the year off and maintain contact with the college until they ultimately enroll.
Malia Obama will join the approximately 30,000 graduating high school seniors to delay enrolling in college after being accepted to the schools of their choice. Harvard, Obama's future school, actively encourages gap years in its admissions letters.
As colleges become more focused on student success, the idea of a year off to better figure out what students want to do with their lives could help bolster their drive and direction on campus. Colleges that strive to bring students with diverse experiences to campus for higher-quality classroom discussion also may favor students who take gap years and expand their horizons.
With nontraditional students making up the majority of college students, many arrive on campus without the enrichment-oriented gap year. They, however, are more likely to show up with children and full- or part-time jobs that need their attention.
- Associated Press Things to know: the benefits of students taking a gap year
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