Taking off a year from college

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Taking off a year from college
By Dke (Dke) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:25 am: Edit

What do you think about taking a year off from college? I've heard about these educational consultants who (for a sizable fee, of course) who will find internships and various "learning opportunities" for kids who need maturing or whatever before starting another college year....my take on it is that if a kid needs maturing or a break maybe he/she should try the working life for a year and see how great the college life really is....meanwhile maintaining a sense of independence in that they're supporting themselves..even if they probably live at home...any feedback?

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:52 am: Edit

Yes, well I did that and really appreciated going back to college and was more focused when I did, that is, knew what I wanted to do.One of my four children has been on a 3 year, one year gap . He doesn't earn much but his living expenses are low and he is doing something he enjoys and is well suited for, working in a rare book store.There are no benefits (dental, medical) and the risk is always there the store will fail.But he has a rather happy go lucky attitide at present and my husband and I can do nothing about it so there it goes.Of course we want him to finish!He found the job himself and lives in a house with other young people, does not drive, and is able to save for long backpacking vacations to South America with friends.He is the type of person who can take a fishing pole and book to the riverbank and spend hours there.As I said before, we can do nothing about his lifestyle so accept it.

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:02 pm: Edit

e have had several friends who have done a gap year.
A handful did programs through "leapnow" an organization that has done the footwork to find relatively safe, exciting programs many abroad that students may do for a semester or several years. One started out with a mountain search and rescue training in Applachia but culminated his experience teaching high school in Ulithi for several years.
A couple kids teamed up and took their divemasters test off of the Great Barrier Reef, and worked on a sheep station in Australia.
My own daughter did take a year off and lived at home but she did volunteer work through Americorps where she taught elementary aged homeless kids, introduced web design to inner city high school students, and took Cisco training a sponsoring organization.
My take on it is , taking a year off can be much more than just getting a break . A well designed sabbatical can give them a richness of experience and perspective that working jobs in their hometown can't necessarily match.
THe fees don'thave to be sizable.
My daughter wanted to stay close to home and frankly I needed her help with her sister, although I would have loved to have seen her live on a farm in Ireland where she cared for horses or continued her turtle preservation on beaches of Costa RIca.
She actually earned an education stipend which can be used for tuition or loans.
The Gap programs are generally low cost and self supporting. I would feel comfortable with their level of fees and of research.
Americorps is a govt funded organization, I don't know the current status of continued funding, Bush originally was elected saying that he was increasing funding and wanted every American to give at least a year of service, but funding has been cut rather harshly and several sites have had to cut back on their staff and support of community.

By Backhandgrip (Backhandgrip) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:10 pm: Edit

Wow that is really great Emrald.She must feel pretty proud of herself!

By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 12:36 pm: Edit

well what she has said about it is what others have shared. " SHe is glad she did it, but she wouldn't do it again"
She actually did CityYEar a division of Americorps that is much stricter in "fraternization" between members, clothing, after hours behavior, etc.
She is currently of course taking another year off, cause of mostly academic issues along with some emotional recentering,but she has begun teaching a science program at the elementary school she attended and I hope that she will enjoy doing that enough so that it won't be too difficult being away from all her friends at Reed their senior year. ( She is going to visit again next weekend)
I think it is so great to take time off without worring too much about rent and food. another friend who went thru the EEP program at UW ( skipped high school) and has a double major in Astronmy and physics with a russian minor is taking several years off working through the peace corps. ( Well I think it is called Freedom corp now) I tell em, do it before you get married and have kids , you can travel when you have kids of course, but not in the same way as when you are traveling alone.

By Momrath (Momrath) on Saturday, September 11, 2004 - 11:45 pm: Edit

Taking a Gap Year is commonplace in the UK because of their odd (to us Americans) system of university application and acceptance. The Gap Years that children of our British friends have taken seem to be split into segments, one example was a boy who took a language course in Beijing, interned at a newpaper in his hometown, then worked at the Sydney Olympics, about four months each. His goals were to learn something new, travel, add to his resume, have some fun. During this time he applied to colleges in the UK.

Gap Years are fairly new in America (though supported, even encouraged, by most selective colleges), hence the rise of businesses that help kids and parents choose and organize. If a child is focused and self motivated like Backhandgrip's and Emeraldkity's, then the decision is fairly easy and the result highly positive.

If the whole point is that the child is too unfocused and immature to get the most out of college, then s/he will need some help with his/her Gap Year as well. The downside I would say would be a sense of abandon when his/her friends are all heading off to college, either for the first time or returning.

I'm a great fan of international experience. My son -- who's lived overseas most of his life -- has been amazed by the number of kids at his so-called elite college have never even been out of the US. I think this lack of exposure to the global village is a detriment to bringing different viewpoints to the discussion table.

As far as taking a year off to put the value of college , both financial and academic, in perspective, I'm sure it could work but not if enforced by the parents as a penalty. My husband took a five year gap between his first unsuccessful attempt at college and his eventual BA/MFA program. He definitely didn't live at home while learning in the school of hard knocks so it may not be a fair comparison, but he believes that he didn't have the concentration at 18 to benefit from college. When he did go back, he knew what he wanted and got it.

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