How Many Americans Take A Gap Year?
Published on December 22, 2010
College is far more expensive in the US than other developed countries.
They were rioting, okay maybe not quite rioting, in London over plans that would leave them in less debt than Americans.
Facing the prospect of a big bill for school, why would Americans travel internationally and incur even more debt before even starting school?
It might work if your dad is the bank president, but not for everyone.
You're absolutely right that Americans are vastly under-represented in the gap year department, and that many don't even have a sense of what it is or why it's a good idea. I took a gap year, too, and found myself alone among my classmates in doing so. Even now, I've met very few people who've even thought of it.
What's interesting, though, is how the idea does seem to be gaining traction--as you point out in the cases of Harvard and MIT. Princeton is following suit with a bridge year option, and other colleges will likely do the same.
As the momentum gathers, I wanted to draw your attention to the organization I work for, Global Citizen Year, which is working to make the gap year a common step in the education trajectory for students from all backgrounds. Now recruiting for its third class, this is an initiative which seeks to do far more than just offer another option to students already looking; its goal is to transform the whole transition to college as a time when students take a year in the world to gain global perspectives and skills through a year of direct immersion in the developing world. Kind of like the Peace Corps, but four years earlier, giving students a chance to apply what they learn to their college as well as professional careers. As you point out, taking this time "off" actually makes you more prepared for college than your peers who don't, and you do indeed pick up some incredible stories along the way.
If you're interested in talking more you can email me at [email protected] In the meantime thanks for the post and I look forward to reading more!