In recent years, studies have demonstrated that there is growing number of U.S.
high school graduates who are taking a year off, before enrolling in college. This
trend, traditionally popular in England and other European countries, is giving
U.S. students an opportunity to explore different cultures, communities and gain a
To help decipher this growing trend and what constitutes a gap year, Valerie
Strauss, a reporter with the Washington Post, documented her conversation with
Laura R. Hosid, an expert on gap years at Vink Educational Placement Services, Inc,
in a recent post.
The conversations begins by first defining the term “gap year,” which has come
to “typically describe a year off between high school and college…[which offers] an
opportunity to travel, explore different interests, and gain experience and maturity
before beginning college.” Ms. Hosid continues by pointing out that “many students
choose to take a gap year because they see it as an opportunity to try something
new and take a break from formal schooling.” This new opportunity allows them to
expand their perspectives, gain new insights and formulate new skills that will help
them in college and throughout their professional careers.
In fact, Ms. Hosid notes that “a gap year can be an excellent opportunity to actively
purse an interest or passion” before pursuing that interest academically. In fact,
a 2011 New York Times article notes that data from Middlebury University’s own
statistics “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
[take a gap year].” Other institutions, such as Princeton University and University of
North Carolina, have set-up formal global gap year programs and fellowships.
The conversation also highlighted the different opportunities available to students
throughout their gap year. While most students “choose to spend their gap year in
structured programs volunteering abroad or in the United States,” others “piece
together different options to explore a range of interests.”
For more information or to see the Washington Post blog post:
The Washington Post – 9/21/2012
A Primer on Gap Years