Here in America, it’s not a very popular notion to take a year off between high school and the start of your college career. For many, it is a sign of not being motivated or not being ready to handle it. However, recent studies are showing some pretty tremendous and beneficial effects of taking that extra year off. And both students and parents are reaping the rewards.
The simple fact is that many high school seniors are just not ready for college yet, whether academically or in regards to their maturity. And that’s ok. Much like many parents decide their five-year-old needs another year before kindergarten, some high students could use an extra year as well. That first year of college life can be overwhelming to those who are unprepared and has led to staggering dropout rates in recent years.
During this year, many students decide to travel, volunteer, or get some real-world work experience. This becomes a way for students to learn more about themselves, what they want out of life, and to learn more about life outside of their parent’s home and the adult responsibilities required.
For students who experienced helicopter parents who hovered and coddled, this is a time to grow up some. They learn to complete many tasks such as laundry, cooking, dishes, and cleaning for themselves. They can learn to take care of themselves without the extra stress of school.
Once it is time to return to their studies, they are ready to handle those new challenges. And counselors find that these students usually finish college in a shorter amount of time. It has also been noticed that students who decide to wait a year tend to come back with more focus, more maturity, and more self-awareness. They typically know what they want from their education and are less likely to change majors and/or schools several times, saving themselves and their parents a lot of time and money. They also have more realistic career goals and are more motivated to reach those.
When it comes to the actual classroom, professors and parents alike notice better grades and an overall higher GPA than expected, especially in comparison to those who didn’t take a gap year. Students who took this time off also tend to stand out as classroom and extracurricular activity leaders. And they are able to juggle the responsibilities of their classes, sports, work, social life, etc. much easier.
This year is an opportunity for young adults to learn about life on their own, making their own decisions, and not leaning on the support of their parents. It’s a time for them to grow in maturity and learn some valuable life lessons without risking $50,000 in college tuition and fees. When it’s time for that money to actually be spent, it will be much more worth it both to the student and their parents.