What? Is that insane?! Not at all. This is the perfect moment to take a deep breath and consider taking a break from school before plunging into the next pressurized step. Now is the time to think about a gap year or semester that allows time and opportunity to refocus, polish skills, explore an interest, or simply re-energize.
Gap years still are more common in places like the United Kingdom where up to 25 percent of students who go to college take a year off. In the United States, that number is closer to 1 percent, according to the nonprofit Higher Education Research Institute. The statistics don’t tell why students take off a year, but the American Gap Association (AGA) reports increasing interest and attendance at the gap year fairs it holds around the country to familiarize students with gap programs.
Why even consider a gap? For starters, researchers in Australia found that taking time out from school helped with motivation once students...
If you’re considering taking a “pause” from your studies, go through the college application process, but ask about deferral policies both for academics and financial aid. Thinking about those things now provides time to decide if a gap is a practical option. In the meantime, start exploring gap programs and options. Do you want something structured or freewheeling? Do you want to climb a mountain or work with children? Is this a time to work in a lab or volunteer at an animal hospital? Would you like to become fluent in a language, understand the inner workings of health care, or meet decision makers in Washington, D.C.? You can do all those and more on a gap.
Gaps have become so acceptable that some colleges, such as Princeton, have set up their own fully-funded programs to encourage students to explore the world and themselves before entering college.
And more than 90 percent of 600 gap students...
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