December 10, 2018

Sometimes Coming Home from College is a Bad Sign

This informative article was published in the New York Times just before Thanksgiving and reaches out to the parents of future college freshmen. It starts with an unhappy fact that acts as a warning and then raises a powerful question. The warning: “Thirty percent of freshmen won’t return for their sophomore year, and the wheels can start to fall off as early as Thanksgiving". The question: "What can parents do?”

This article’s authors are William Stixrud and Ned Johnson. Stixrud is a clinical neuropsychologist with whom Center for Interim Programs' president, Holly Bull, met in 2014 in her ongoing efforts to inform people about the Gap Year’s very positive experiences. One of the key effects she described to him was how these experiences lead to successful college careers for the overwhelming majority of Interim’s Gap Year participants. Stixrud's co-author, Johnson, is a leading tutor and test prep professional. They published “The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives” and are well known and respected in the field of young adult education. What they say in this article leaves us with much food for thought.

For example, "When the new batch of freshmen arrived on campus this fall, many of them were greeted as members of the class of 2022, based on the old assumption that college is a four-year program. In fact, according to data from the nonprofit Complete College America, only 20 percent of students complete a bachelor's degree in four years." And, "only 57 percent of students who enroll in college will graduate in six years."

When students drop out it can be devastating for parents and students.

Stixrud and Johnson also state, “If you question your teenager’s readiness for college at the end of high school, you cannot expect that he or she will be ready by fall. It takes time, practice and some failure to learn how to run a life. And you don’t want your child to learn these lessons in an environment that is as toxic as it is expensive.” And, “Options like gap years or plain and simple work experience can help students mature so that when they do enroll, they are more likely to be successful.”

As quoted above and believed here at Interim, the Gap Year is one of the preparatory activities that should be considered. 

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