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March 03, 2014

Last week we covered a story exploring the potential benefits of a gap year – postponing the start of college.  In our interviews, we reported that although the gap year may be important in helping some young students mature and realize their ambitions in life, the privilege of affording this experience is very much contingent on one's economic background. 

Today, we hear some of your comments on our report to get a better idea of how people feel about gap years.

Abby Falik, Founder and CEO of Global Citizen Year, writes:

"Today's students are sprinting along the high school treadmill only to arrive in college burnt-out and without a clear sense of purpose. One third of college freshman do not come back for a second year and only 50 percent will graduate in six years. Stress and anxiety among college students is at an all-time high while emotional health and well-being is at an all-time low. Something needs to change." 
  

Jessica Clark, on the other hand, offers an alternative idea.  She reminds us that today's educational environment is remarkably different than it was 50 years ago.

"It's no longer the relatively affluent students or the top 10 percent who earn a scholarship to a college. Now, half of all high school students attempt some college. More and more are under prepared for college academically and face significant financial burdens that may make it seem impossible to finish after beginning, especially if it takes extra years due to failed classes or low course loads." 

The problem, Clark says, is that more people from lower-income brackets are attempting to get a college education so that they can secure a decent job.  For her, the problem lies in the perception that a college education is a necessary requisite for middle-income job, and that the solution lies in "expanding technical schools, paid internship programs, or creating entry-level jobs where onsite training would occur might be just as helpful as encouraging a gap year."

Jordan Ricker, a participant in Global Citizen Year, points out the benefits of the gap year in his life.

"Going to Senegal and constantly being challenged every day in ways that would have been unimaginable before definitely changed the course of my life and gave me a perspective that I am grateful for every day." 

How do you feel about the gap year?  Share your opinions in the comment section below. 

comments, increasing access and success, higher ed, Tufts University, gap year

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