Why a Gap Year?

Many students around the country are starting to take a year off in between high school and college, or college and grad school. This year is called a “gap year” and is often used to focus in on something that regular schooling can’t quite provide for you.

A gap year is simply taking ‘time off with a purpose.’ It is not a time to do nothing, but is an intentional time of reflection and discovery before a major transition in life.

– Derek Melleby, Center for Parent/Youth Understanding

Is there a need for a Gap Year?

College/Career Preparedness?

For some students it works well to transition right from high school into college or from college into grad school. But according to the American College Testing Service there is an increasing trend:

Less than half of those entering traditional four-year colleges after high school will have graduated after five years. One-quarter will have dropped out during their freshman year. Of those in college, many will report that they do not know why they are there or how their classes relate to any life or career goal. Many of those in school, as well as those who have left, will have accumulated considerable debt without a realistic chance of finding a job.

Will someone’s faith in Christ stand the test?

Even more critical than college readiness is the issue of a person’s faith. Has a student leaving home for the first time truly developed a faith that is their own and is rooted in Christ so that it can stand the many tests it will face in the world?

Studies conducted by the Southern Baptist Convention’s Family Life Council, LifeWay Research, the Assembly of God and The Barna Group show that between 60 and 80 percent of youth end up walking away from the church around their late teens or shortly thereafter. Furthermore, UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute divulged that 52 percent of college students attended church regularly before their freshman year — a number that dropped to 29 percent by their junior year. Similarly, 40 to 50 percent of students participating in church youth groups struggle with their faith after graduation, according to the Fuller Youth Institute’s College Transition Project.

4 Advantages of a Gap Year

1) A gap year brings focus

Gaining life experience before entering into more schooling is significant for someone’s learning and for gaining clarity about life direction and purpose. As students interact with the world in new ways they start to discover their gifts and passions, creating a deeper desire to learn with a specific goal in mind.

2) A gap year has economic benefit

It makes economic sense for students to explore their interests before college, advocates of gap years say; freshmen who do so are less likely to party too much, fail courses or change majors repeatedly—all of which can result in more time needed to graduate, and more expense.

– New York Times reporter Tanya Mohn, How to Become a World Citizen, Before Going to College

3) A gap year grows a person’s maturity

According to Princeton Review a gap year spent intentionally “can cultivate maturity and self-discipline… Admissions counselors at professional schools tell us that taking time off of school is rarely a disadvantage for an applicant. In fact, they often choose the student who took a year off and is ready to become fully engaged in school over the one who has been on autopilot and will burn out in a few months.”

4) A Christ focused gap year strengthens a person’s faith for the long haul

When students walk away from their faith after high school it is often a sign that their “faith” was the faith of others rather than their own. Taking a year to focus on one’s faith away from their typical environment and in the midst of life experience allows for someone to seek God and experience his faithfulness for themselves. The result is a often lasting faith that is central to the student’s life.

Additional Resources

God In The Gap Year: The Benefits Of Taking Time Off Before Going To College
The Gap Year Experience: A Life Changing Opportunity
Is Deferred Admission Right For You?
How to Become a World Citizen, Before Going to College
Questions on Deferring Enrollment to Take a Gap Year
Why Your High School Senior Should Take a Gap Year
Gap Year: The Growing Appeal of Not Going Right to College
The Gap-Year Advantage: Helping Your Child Benefit from Time Off Before or During College