Exploring the Growing Trend of Taking a Gap Year before College

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When chosen wisely, a gap year can meet a student exactly where they are and provide what they need to thrive in college.

Each year, between 80 and 110 future Harvard students choose to take a gap year. They’re encouraged to pursue this option straight from the Admissions office. Why would one of the most prestigious schools in the country encourage high school grads to wait to go to college?

Harvard isn’t the only school encouraging its applicants to consider this option. Wheaton College was just ranked as being one of the friendliest higher education institutes for gap year students.

The growing trend in higher education is to put matriculation off for 4-12 months. This “gap” in the educational treadmill is called a gap year. It can be taken at any time during college, but students typically use the break between their senior year of high school and their freshman year of college.

There is no one best way to do a gap year—the possibilities are endless. When used well, a gap year allows a student to broaden their worldview while deepening their faith. Students have the space to learn new skills – both “hard” skills like language acquisition and “soft” skills like conflict resolution (needed today more than ever, I’d say.)

Gap years are growing in popularity for good reason. When chosen wisely, a gap year can meet a student exactly where they are and provide what they need to thrive in college. Charlie Goeke, Director of the Vanguard Gap Year of Wheaton College, says this:

We have every kind of student at Vanguard. By design, the program meets each where they stand. We introduce both to an academic environment outside of textbooks and tests – a space that encourages outdoor adventure, Christ-centered community, and inquiry-led learning.

The truth is, taking a gap year doesn’t …

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