Monday, May 09, 2016

EDUCATION - The 'Gap Year'

"Why more teens like Malia Obama are taking a gap year" PBS NewsHour 5/2/2016


SUMMARY:  President Barack Obama's eldest daughter Malia announced plans to take a gap year before she attends Harvard in 2017, an idea that is taking hold among more and more students.  In 2015, 30-40,000 students took a year off after graduating high school, a 20 percent jump.  William Brangham talks to Joe O'Shea of Florida State University for more on the broader trend of deferring college.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM (NewsHour):  It's estimated that, last year in the U.S., 30,000 to 40,000 students tried out a gap year.  And that's a 20 percent jump from the previous year.

So, what are they, why the growing interest?

To help fill in the picture, I'm joined from Boston by Joe O'Shea.  He's the author of “Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs.”  He also directs the Center for Undergraduate Research and Academic Engagement at Florida State University.

So, Joe, welcome.

JOSEPH O'SHEA, Florida State University:  Thank you.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  I think a lot of our viewers have this stereotype that a gap year is for rich kids to put on a backpack and travel around Europe and find themselves.  I know that's not totally true, so, tell us, what is a gap year?


There are so many misconceptions about what a gap year is, and some people think it's just waiting around in your home community, maybe sitting on your parents' couch, taking a year off from school.

But we think of gap year as something very different, a very powerful educational experience.  It's a structured, deliberate and purposeful experience, in which students challenge themselves outside their comfort zones.  Often it involves traveling or working or interning, sometimes overseas, sometimes domestically, but it's designed as an experience that accelerates their personal growth and prepares them for college.

WILLIAM BRANGHAM:  So, could you give me some examples of actual gap year activities that kids are doing now?


So, City Year, for instance, one in the U.S. in which students — or young people work in inner-city schools, is a powerful one, and popular one.  Many students go overseas.  An organization Global Citizen Year, for instance, or Omprakash work with local community-based organizations in developing communities around the world.

And students will intern there.  Maybe they're doing something with young people or a community role or public health kind of work.  But it really runs the spectrum.


"5 things to know about a gap year, when students take time off" by Hope Yen (AP), PBS NewsHour 5/2/2016

American Gap Association

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