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Pros and Cons of Gap Year

mxwx3mxwx3 Registered User Posts: 33 Junior Member
edited November 2009 in Parents Forum
S is a senior. He has a 3.7 GPA and 1950 SATs. However, he is going through the motions of application process and not really enthusiastic about going to college in fall 2010. A side of me thinks that a gap year would be a good idea for him to clear his head. Anyone have experience with gap year students and how they fared.
Post edited by mxwx3 on

Replies to: Pros and Cons of Gap Year

  • mmaahmmaah Registered User Posts: 944 Member
    My son took a gap year and it was wonderful all around. Our condition was that he needed to apply to a college he wanted to attend and be accepted, then defer. (Many LACs are happy to defer for a year; unis may be less flexible in this regard). The pros were these: he got a real break from academic stress and returned to college very excited to jump into that world; he traveled and studied and worked independently and therefore went to college with experience in travel, independent living, how to drink sensibly, how to do laundry and an appreciation for how one can live on very little and be happy. It also turned out to be a pro that he did not graduate with his high school class who found themselves entering a terrible job market. We did not really experience any "con"s of a gap year and would have been happy to have our daughter do the same--but she wanted to go right on to college. (And the "pro" of that is she followed him and they are now getting a kick out of being in the same school for a year together...which would not have happened if he had not taken a gap year.... I definitely think that if a kid is not enthusiastic about going to college in the fall that proposing a gap year is a great idea. Just ask him to come up with a plan for how he would use the time and to find a school that will accept him and allow a deferral.
  • LasMaLasMa Registered User Posts: 10,847 Senior Member
    I'll agree with mmaah from the other side -- my D didn't take a gap year, and should have. Her freshman transition would, I think, be going alot more smoothly with an extra year of maturity under her belt.

    Also, the whole process of preparing to leave, and then separating, take too much out of both parent and child to be endured if the child's heart isn't in it. Wait till he's really ready before you take that plunge.
  • shawbridgeshawbridge Registered User Posts: 5,250 Senior Member
    I have seen kids who were burned out and should have taken gap years like LasMa's daughter flounder/be miserable in their freshman year. They do recover, but they could spend the year doing something else.

    My son had health problems in his senior year and just didn't have the energy to take SATs or apply to college while maintaining his excellent performance in school. I told him to just skip the tests/applications, which he did as part of the fall of his gap year. He campaigned for Obama, rested, worked on a novel, studied for SATs and ACTs and took them, applied to schools, had surgery to address the health issues, tried to complete his novel and did a little bit of traveling. He would have liked to travel more but friends who were going to travel with him dropped out at the last minute.

    He was a little lonely that year because most of his friends were in college. But, on the plus side, he was really ready to go to college. His tests/college applications received attention he could not have given them. He appears to be doing pretty well and is pretty happy with college, although he hasn't made close friends yet as far as I know.

    He and I would highly recommend a gap year. Some kids have an organized program (doing social good in Ecuador followed by studying Italian in Florence, followed by working with native Americans on a reservation in South Dakota, ...). My son would have hated that -- he considers it organized baby-sitting. Except for Outward Bound, he hated summer camp type activities. My daughter is a HS junior and she loves those kinds of activities and has already told us she wants to take a gap year.
  • poetgrlpoetgrl Registered User Posts: 13,334 Senior Member
    D had a gap year planned, an outdoor adventure in a foreign country doing service work gap year. She made the plans as a part of her college application process. She did not end up going on the gap year, but I endorsed the plan as equally as going off to college. The deal was just that she had to be applied and accepted to schools and then to defer enrollment. (A logistical issue)

    Three of her friends DID take gap years...ranging from one who is totally burnt out on school and staying at home and taking a few trips and working to one in Europe to one on the same exotic trip D did not go on. All of these kids, including D, seem to be doing very well. I'm a fan of gap years, personally and professionally for kids who are not really excited about college.
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