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The Growing Allure Of The Gap Year46:23Download

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Malia Obama will take a gap year before college. Did you? Should you? What it takes to have a good gap year. Plus, why millennials aren't giving up dorm living after graduation.

President Barack Obama and his daughter, Malia, walk from Marine One toward Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport. Malia is taking a year off after graduating from high school before attending Harvard University as part of an expanding program for students known as a "gap year." (Nick Ut/AP/File)
President Barack Obama and his daughter, Malia, walk from Marine One toward Air Force One at Los Angeles International Airport. Malia is taking a year off after graduating from high school before attending Harvard University as part of an expanding program for students known as a "gap year." (Nick Ut/AP/File)

So, Malia Obama is taking a gap year before she heads off to college in 2017. Good for her. After all those years in the White House, she may need to get out and about. A lot of American high school grads and their families apparently now feel the same. The numbers taking a gap year are headed up and up. Time to see, explore, work, mature. Is it just a treat for the well-off? Is it the experience that makes everything else better? This hour On Point: What makes a good gap year?
-Tom Ashbrook 

Guests

Ethan Knight, executive director and founder of the American Gap Association. (@americangap)

Mary Claire Gerwells, lecturer in educational psychology at the University of Texas Austin.

Jeffrey Selingo, professor of practice at the Arizona State University's Academy for Innovative Higher Education Leadership. Author of There Is Life After College. (@jselingo)

From Tom's Reading List

Gap Years for Everyone? — "Students who take gap years are more likely to have parents who can foot the bill for both the year and the college education that follows. For one thing, unlike college enrollment, federal financial aid for college can’t be deferred; the U.S. Department of Education notes that students taking a gap year would apply for the year they actually plan to enroll, which might make it harder for students on aid to plan a gap year. And while it may be well-accepted within the Ivy League, gap-year support is still far from universal: The California State University system, for instance, doesn’t have a deferral policy and requires students to reapply if they postpone enrollment for a gap year." (Slate)

How to Plan a Gap Year — "Your gap year, particularly if you’re in a developing country, won’t be seamless, Mr. Stitt said. “You’re going to go through a bit of a shock, but embrace it,” he said. Trains and planes won’t run on schedule, the electricity may go, and the phone lines may not work well. Frustrating, yes, but these glitches are exactly the point of a gap year, according to Mr. Knight. “You build resilience and also get an insight into another culture and how things work in that country,” he said." (New York Times)

Why more high-school seniors need to be like Malia Obama and take a gap year — "The reasons high school graduates put off college are critically important to how well they eventually do in school and in their career. For the gap year to truly matter, it can’t be simply a break, a year spent sleeping in the childhood bedroom and working part time at McDonald’s. Students who delay college to work odd jobs while they try to “find themselves” don’t do as well as everyone else when they get to campus. They get lower grades, and there’s a greater chance they will drop out." (Washington Post)

Why Give Up Dorm Life?

Lizzie Widdicombe, editor of Talk of the Town for the New Yorker. @widdikombe

Happy Together — "The contemporary phenomenon of co-living began in San Francisco, with “hacker mansions,” rambling Victorians that programmers furnished with bunk beds and turned into startup factories. In 2014, Campus, founded by a twenty-three-year-old named Tom Currier, attempted to formalize the process. It leased homes in San Francisco and began selling memberships. When you joined Campus, you weren’t just joining a house; you were choosing a life style. You could bounce among the company’s various locations." (New Yorker)

This program aired on May 10, 2016.

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