What is a gap year?

The question of whether or not a student should take a gap year has become more common amid COVID-19

A gap year is a one-year break between schooling, often taken between the completion of high school and the beginning of college.

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The question of whether a student should take a gap year has become more common as students nationwide grapple with the financial impacts of the novel coronavirus, which has left millions without jobs and with no choice but to spend money they’ve saved.

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Many use it as an opportunity for “experiential education” or “challenging zones/sacrifice,” according to the Gap Year Association, which encourages the practice.

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The group defines a gap year as being a “semester or year of experiential learning, typically taken after high school and prior to career or post-secondary education, in order to deepen one's practical, professional, and personal awareness."

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The concept of taking a gap year became more widely known at the beginning of the millennium, due in part to an article written by Harvard College’s Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, William Fitzsimmons, among others, called, “Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation.”

The association estimated that approximately 90 percent of people who opt to go through a gap year are attending a four-year program within 12 months of finishing their gap years.

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