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The Gap Year – Breaking up the ”cradle to college to cubicle to cemetery” cycle - Africa and Asia Venture

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The Gap Year – Breaking up the ”cradle to college to cubicle to cemetery” cycle - Africa and Asia Venture

The Gap Year – Breaking up the ”cradle to college to cubicle to cemetery” cycle - Africa and Asia Venture

Here at AV we are all for the "Gap Year: American style" - we have a number of volunteers from North America joining us on our Ventures. Don't worry that we won't be able to meet you face to face - we can have a skype chat or talk on the telephone any time you have questions!

A recent article in the New York Times titled "The Gap Year: Breaking up the "cradle to college to cubicle to cemetery" cycle" brought up some good points......

"The idea of taking time off between high school and college — a self-exploratory sabbatical in the free spirit of 1970s — has increasingly become a structured concept in the United States, with counselors like Ms. Bull linking students and parents up with formal programs.

As the number of students who opt to take a gap year has grown, so, too, has awareness of gap year benefits to the student, said Robert Clagett, former dean of admissions at Middlebury College (and formerly an admissions officer at Harvard).

Mr. Clagett said he is compiling data from institutions across the country on gap year student performance once they matriculate, and he cited Middlebury’s own statistics of recent years. The data demonstrated that average G.P.A. for Middlebury students who took a break — 35 people this year — was consistently higher than that of those who did not. (He noted that self-selection could be partly at play, that gap year students are typically more affluent and may have some different, unifying qualities.)

Mr. Clagett’s motivation in studying the significance of a gap year is to “disabuse the parents out there of the idea that taking a year off is going to somehow mean disaster for their kids.” He added, “I think the opposite is true.”

Gap time – regardless of what one does – combats the “let down” a student feels once arriving on campus, Mr. Clagett said. “There can be this feeling of ‘now what?’ And that can lead to lower achievement, to lower self-esteem. Gap programs nip that in the bud.”

Of course, many ambitious students do not idle away the gap year: the panel mentioned experiences including working on a cooperative farm; teaching English abroad; and interning with the Student Conservation Association (which The Choice has discussed before).

A gap year does not have to be expensive, Linda Connelly, a post-high school counselor at New Trier High School in Illinois, said. She cited one student who stayed local for six months, working in a deli and taking a course in Chinese. For the following six months, he volunteered in Asia, having financed his trip there.

The student broadened his perspective on the world, she said, uncovering his passion for the East. “And he learned he never wanted to work in a deli again,” she said, laughing.

Beyond personal exploration, gap year students are also advantaged in the job market later on, according to Ms. Bull, the independent interim year counselor. “You’re building a resume that is directly relevant to getting a job,” she said.

But students and parents are not without concern in considering gap years. Chiefly, many are worried that a student who takes a break may not get back on track and actually enroll. In response, the panel emphasized that, most often, time away re-energizes academic interest and breaks up what can be a rote formula of life progression; as Anna Quindlen’s daughter said of gap time before school, it allows avoidance of the four Cs – a limited cycle “from cradle to college to cubicle to cemetery.”

Students may also be concerned about being older than peers when entering college, Ms. Bull said. “But I tell them that you’re not as age-bound in college. Age doesn’t matter.”

Institutions are increasingly voicing their active support of gap time. The group mentioned Princeton University’s bridge year program, along with the news that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently received a $1.5 million donation to help freshmen set up a gap year."

To read the full article please visit the New York Times website

For more information about our Ventures in Africa, Asia or Latin America please give us a call on +44 1380 729009 or email

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