Gap Year Can Present Opportunity if Planned Correctly
Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 11:10
More high school graduates are deciding that time away from the classroom is a better decision for them from college. The Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California-LosAngeles says about 1.2 percent of up-and-coming college freshmen will take a year off before heading to a university.
That is not a huge number, but it is a growing trend. And hey, why not spend a year exploring a new country, learning a new language or working to earn some money to pay for school?
Jeff Coltin, FCRH ’15, columnist for The Ram, wrote that he likes the idea of a gap year. He says that he would like to visit a Spanish-speaking country to learn the language intensively.
Bernie Stratford is the director of experimental education at Fordham University’s Office of Career Services. He says that if young adults are productive with their gap years, it can look good on a resume.
“With the marketplace being as volatile and as dynamic as it is, employers are interested in students’ experiences,” Stratford said. “I don’t even consider the gap year a year off, it’s just another year developing your employability and developing as a person.”
Padding a resume is not the only reason people are delaying going to college; some students need time to save up cash. According to USA Today, tuition went up 15 percent from 2008 to 2010. Administrators in Fordham University’s Office of Admission say they understand that some students must defer going to college for a year because of financial reasons.
“Since 2008, we’ve seen more students expressing the need to save for college,” John Buckley, associate vice president for undergraduate enrollment, said. “Economic reasons [among deferring students] have probably climbed in recent years.”
The gap year can have its downsides, as some young adults struggle to find the motivation to get back into the swing of things. A study done in 2003 by the National Center for Education Statics shows that only roughly 15 percent of students who waited a year to go to college picked up a bachelor’s degree. In that same report, 44 percent of those who went straight to a university got their diploma.
There are some high school graduates who defer enrollment for a year and take classes at a community college. This is a risk, as students who perform poorly at a local school can hurt their status at other universities.
“If they [gap year students] go to another school for a period of time to strengthen their academic profile, there would be a reassessment of their credentials” Buckley said.
Stratford agrees that anyone thinking about time off should have a strategy in place.
“If you’re going to take a year off, make sure you have a plan because the importance of receiving an undergraduate degree speaks for itself,” he said.
The U.S. Office of Occupational Statistics and Employment Projections has some tips for those interested in taking a gap year. The department says students should figure out how their financial aid will be affected by talking to the school they are interested in attending. It is also important to plan out a budget that calculates living expenses for the year.
After talking with Fordham’s Office of Admission, career services and students on the Rose Hill campus, I thought about whether I would have taken a year off before coming to Fordham knowing what I do now. I could have gone to Italy, learned Italian and found a nice Italian gal to settle down with in Venice. Luckily, coming to the Big Apple from a small suburb in Arizona has worked out pretty well for me so far.
“The whole idea of a year off sounds like a good time,” Martin McCormack, FCRH ’15, said. “But I don’t regret my decision to come to New York City. I’m having a blast here.”
I could not agree more.