This year the White House announced that Malia Obama, the Obama’s oldest daughter, would be taking a gap year and attending Harvard as part of the class of 2021.
What was once thought of as something that only wealthy families could afford is now an increasingly popular trend. Students at college prep boarding schools around the nation are following in Malia’s footsteps and taking a year to reevaluate where they’re going in life.
What Is a Gap Year?
A gap year is taken usually between high school and college, but some students take it a year or two into their higher education. Students take part in service programs, travel abroad and take part in projects that can help them land a job in the future. Students might also take a gap year to take a break from school so they don’t feel completely burned out by their senior year of college.
College prep boarding schools are seeing an increased number of students taking advantage of this year to get away from tests and homework. Students can more easily find out what their true passions in life are and make plans to get to where they want. Harvard has seen a 33 percent increase in students taking advantage of this time off.
Benefits of the Gap Year
Robert Clagett, the former dean of admissions at Harvard said that students who take a gap year “will frequently be more mature, more focused and more aware of what they want to do with their college education.” These students are found to have higher GPAs because they take greater ownership with their studies and where they want to be in life.
A recent survey done by the American Gap Association reported that 98 percent of students who took a gap year felt that the time off helped them develop as a person. Parents of those who attended college prep boarding schools often worry that their students will not return to school. These worries have been quieted by the same survey that indicates 90 percent of students who took a gap year are likely to return within the same year.
Getting the Most Out of Your Gap Year
The students from college prep boarding schools and public schools alike should find something to do before taking their gap year. Too often, a year off can lead to a year in front of the television. There are several programs that can allow the student to experience a different culture, develop new life skills and live their life to the fullest. All it takes is a little research and an investment into finding your life’s passion.