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Go Away: In Praise Of The Gap Year, For All Students

Jacob Murray: "[Students] volunteer in homeless shelters in New York, animal rescue organizations in Thailand or hospitals in Cape Town. They work on farms in Central America, ranches in Canada or film crews in New Zealand." (Will Ellis/flickr)closemore
Jacob Murray: "[Students] volunteer in homeless shelters in New York, animal rescue organizations in Thailand or hospitals in Cape Town. They work on farms in Central America, ranches in Canada or film crews in New Zealand." (Will Ellis/flickr)

Across the United States, the idea of a “gap year” has taken hold. Instead of enrolling in college directly after high school, gap year students take a year off to work, perform service, travel or do all of the above. They volunteer in homeless shelters in New York, animal rescue organizations in Thailand or hospitals in Cape Town. They work on farms in Central America, ranches in Canada or film crews in New Zealand. Many take courses that offer experiential learning, such as studying marine biology on a boat touring the Caribbean. A veritable gap year industry has emerged to package these and other options.

...gap year students arrive on campus more mature, confident and focused on school and career goals than traditional students do.

So, what’s not to like about a gap year? The cost – as much as $30,000...

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Jacob Murray Cognoscenti contributor
Jacob Murray is the faculty director for professional education at the Boston University School of Education.

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