Malia Obama is taking a Gap year! Here’s why more High-School Seniors should consider it too.

malia obamaThere is much debate over the significance of a Gap year, as many students who defer college for a year end up spending their time in part-time jobs trying to find themselves. The statistics for these students is generally not as impressive and does not necessarily correlate with better grades or a higher percentage of graduating within 6 years.

As the Washington Post states: “For the gap year to truly matter, it can’t be simply a break, a year spent sleeping in the childhood bedroom and working part-time at McDonald’s. Students who delay college to work odd jobs while they try to “find themselves” don’t do as well as everyone else when they get to campus. They get lower grades and there’s a greater chance they will drop out.

But students whose gap years involve travel—whether to a foreign country or to a different part of the U.S.—not only end up with higher grades in college, but they also graduate at the same rate as those who don’t delay at all. Research has found that when gap-year students arrive on campus, they take their studies more seriously and don’t engage in risky behavior, such as alcohol abuse.

For a gap year to have a significant impact on success in college, and later in the working world, it needs to be a transformative event, quite distinct from anything a student has experienced before—a meaningful work experience, academic preparation for college, or travel that opens up the horizon to the rest of the world. It should also be designed to help students acquire the skills and attributes that colleges and employers are looking for: maturity, confidence, problem solving, communication skills, and independence.”

AMIGOS Gap year participants know this well! Current AMIGOS and Tufts 1+4 Gap year participant Abigail Barton has already learned so much: “Being on a gap year has showed me just how capable the world is, how capable youth are, and finally, how capable I am. It has shown me that this capability is founded in a diversity of ideas, people, and ways of doing things. My gap year has taught me not to doubt. It’s taught me that the only way to get something done is to first believe that you can and then go out and do it. I am proud of the doubts I’ve been able to overcome, and I think that’ll be absolutely important in the future.”

Have you or your child considered taking a Gap year?

Check out the full article by Jeffrey Selingo at the Washington Post.

Natalie Murdock

Natalie spends her days marketing for AMIGOS, and her nights snuggling with her beagles while reading parenting books.