January 24, 2019

Top Colleges are Embracing, Encouraging, and Even Contributing to a Gap Year

Center for Interim Programs

Gap Years, once thought to be options only for students from well-to-do families, are now growing more popular for students of modest means who want to pause before jumping into college. As Duke Undergraduate Admissions Dean, Christoph Guttentag, tells us in this article by Melissa Korn that appeared in the Wall Street Journal on Christmas Day, the gap year allows hard-charging, academically focused students "to reflect, to grow, to mature, to develop".

Not only are there many low cost Gap Year options open to all, but incoming freshmen at schools such as Tufts University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Florida State University, and Princeton University, can get financial support to defer their enrollment for a year to travel, volunteer, or pursue other passions. Generous donors are also beginning to support Gap Year participants and some colleges are forming Gap Year partnerships.

We're also told that the student's Gap Year is not just a one lane street that takes the student along a path of personal development but that it's a highway that benefits the college as well. Duke's Dean Guttentag, mentioned above, believes that Gap Year students bring to the campus creative problem-solving skills and resilience built from real world challenges that provide unique perspective inside and outside the classroom.

Colorado College and other institutions endorse the Gap Year as a transformational educational experience. As we know from experience here at Interim, a Gap Year is definitely a time to refresh, reflect on one's interests, uncover one's passions, and discover and learn more about the world before heading off, or back, to college.

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