In a recent Wall Street Journal article the idea of more and more students taking off a year before college was raised. These students would instead travel, volunteer internationally, and even study fields they are interested in pursuing. After seeing the increase of those engaging in the "gap year" as they call it, it further begs the question "why"?
According to the article, of 300,000 students polled the number of students who took off the extra year was only about 1.2%. While this number is not alarmingly high, it is a percentage that through the years is starting to increase. The main cause for the year off was reported as being a burn out from school. Students needed a break from the continuous pressure of getting the grades to then be pushed even harder to decide what they are going to do for the rest of their lives and apply to colleges.
The gap year for many acted as a time for the students to go back into the books and papers they lost themselves in and actually find who they were and what they wanted to do with their time. Many took the time to volunteer abroad while others took the time to travel and study the field they were looking at going into to see if it was really right for them. This tactic could even be seen as a cost saving strategy because while some students are paying tuition for four years in a major they are not sure about, these gap year students are going out in the real world to see what interests them and then pursuing a degree that follows that interest.
Whatever the main reason may be, these students seem to be finding just what they are looking for. An Australian study linked the gap year with an increase in motivation within college and that is exactly what these students were reporting. They were now able to be motivated about their studies and some reported a 180 degree turnaround from where they were before the gap year.
Overall the gap year is a great time to find not only yourself but what interests you and what the world has to offer. These students are not only becoming international citizens but broadening their potential in their college career. I wish I had thought about participating in a gap year because from the sounds of it, it rocks!