Victoria Juarez: More students are choosing to put college on hold for a year
Guest Commentary

Victoria Juarez: More students are choosing to put college on hold for a year

{{featured_button_text}}
Victoria Juarez, recently appointed CEO of Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara. October 17, 2018. Photo: ©2018 Isaac Hernandez Herrero copyright

Victoria Juarez

Tradition dictates that students begin college in the fall term following their graduation from high school. An increasing number are choosing another path, though, delaying the start of their postsecondary studies for up to a year.

The so-called gap year has been popular in Europe for decades. More than 50 percent of students in Norway, Denmark, and Turkey, for instance, take a year off before college, according to the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education in Oslo, Norway.

The concept has been catching on in the United States, and seemed to get a boost in 2016 when the White House announced that Malia Obama would take a gap year before starting classes at Harvard University.

In fact, Ivy League schools such as Princeton and Harvard have long encouraged incoming freshmen to defer for a year. The trend now seems to be trickling down to public schools.

Reliable statistics are hard to come by, and much of the data cited by advocates is not up to date. Nevertheless, there is compelling evidence that the practice is becoming more common and widely accepted.

According to a recent survey by TD Ameritrade, more than 35 percent of high school students are thinking of taking a gap year, a sharp spike from previous years.

There is even a Gap Year Association that advocates for and accredits formal gap-year programs.

The organization touts research showing that students who take a structured gap year are more likely to graduate on time and with a higher grade-point average. The key word is “structured,” though.

Joe O'Shea, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Florida State University and author of “Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs,” told The Atlantic magazine that lower-income and at-risk students actually benefit more from taking gap years – provided the activities they pursue are “structured and challenging.”

For most proponents, this means things like traveling, studying a foreign language, volunteering, or other self-enrichment undertakings. Some gap-year students spend the time working. No one advocates taking a year off to play video games.

Clearly, a lot of good can come from taking a year off between high school and college, but students should also be mindful of potential pitfalls. Depending on what you choose to do, it can lead to depleted savings, and without careful planning one can easily get sidetracked.

Students should also know that taking a gap year can have financial aid implications. Those who work, for instance, will have to report income, which could result in decreased federal student aid. And because college and university scholarship budgets vary from year to year, students who defer admission could end up receiving less financial assistance from their school of choice.

As I often say in this space, do your homework and consult people in the know before deciding one way or the other.

Victoria Juarez is president and CEO of the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara.

0
0
0
0
0

Tags

Be the first to know

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Related to this story

Most Popular

GUEST COMMENTARY It is a sign of our times that Attorney General William Barr tried to do something right and some illiberal liberals, including not a few in the media, decided that it was wrong on the basis of mindless presidential squawks, factual ignorance and in some cases political opportunity.

  • Updated

DAN WALTERS Gavin Newsom is rushing in where angels — and more cautious politicians — fear to tread by devoting virtually all of his second State of the State address to California’s seemingly intractable housing and homelessness crises.

KEVIN MERRILL I remember when I was around 20 and we used to listen to the radio while hauling hay. Occasionally there would be a weekend during which the station would have a British Invasion theme. I always remember the song, “When Im 64” by the Beatles. We would sing along with the radio, “will you still need me, will you still feed me, when Im 64?” When you’re 20 years old, 64 seems a long way away.

If a policymaker proposed banning cars and trucks or reducing the speed limit to 5 mph to reduce traffic fatalities, he or she would be laughed off the stage. Such a policy ignores the benefits of driving and disregards how people accept risk and tradeoffs in their lives. So why should we treat efforts to ban fracking any different? Hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, is safe. ...

KEVIN G. WALTHERS Over the course of the next few months, Hancock College will roll out a new initiative to ensure that no student feels his or her best option is to take on insurmountable debt to earn a college credential. Our commitment to you is that we will increase our outreach presence and configure our programs in a manner that ensures everyone in our community can affordably pursue their educational goals.

Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.

Topics

News Alerts

Breaking News