With many colleges and universities still deciding when to re-open their campuses after they were shuttered due to COVID-19, many high school seniors are thinking about taking a gap year. Putting off college during the pandemic might enable them to get the on-campus experience they desire in 2021 instead of going to school remotely this fall.


Traditionally, a gap year is a semester or year of learning through experience. It is typically taken after high school and before college or starting a career. However, some college students choose to take a gap year while they’re still in college or before going to graduate school.


As the coordinator of a research group that examines the impact of taking a gap year, here are five ways that students will benefit from the gap year experience.


1. Avoid burnout

1. 避免過度疲勞

Perhaps most importantly, given the pressure in many high schools to excel in school and extracurricular activities to gain admission to college, a gap year gives students the opportunity to do something completely different. Just taking that step off the treadmill can lead to new growth and self-discovery.


2. Gain maturity

2. 變得更加成熟

Taking a break from your formal education can contribute to a deeper appreciation of what the purpose of school is really all about. This, in turn, allows students to begin college with a more mature and focused mindset.


3. Boost academic performance


Could taking a break slow down a student’s academic momentum? Actually, research conducted by an economist at Middlebury College – and replicated at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – found the opposite is true. Not only did students who took a gap year perform, on average, better than those who did not, they actually performed better than would have been predicted, based on their academic credentials when they applied to college. For instance, the study found that the students who took a gap year earned GPAs that were .15 to .25 points higher than predicted.

休息一下會減少學生的學習動力嗎?事實上,由米德爾伯里學院的一位經濟學家進行的一項研究發現,事實恰恰相反——北卡羅來納大學教堂山分校也進行了同樣的研究。平均而言,休間隔年的學生的表現不僅比那些沒有休間隔年的學生好,而且比根據他們在申請大學時的“學術資歷”所預測的要好。例如,研究發現,休間隔年的學生的GPA(Grade Point Average,平均績點)比預期高0.15到0.25分。

4. Earn academic credit

4. 獲得學分

5. Gain independence

5. 變得更加獨立

It’s not necessary to stick with a formal gap year program or limit yourself to just one activity. In my 45 years of working with gap year students, I’ve found that some of the best gap year experiences are those that are self-designed.


One memorable example was a student from Oklahoma who spent the first four months of her gap year tending llamas at a monastery in North Dakota, the next four months working for a lawyer in Tulsa and the last four volunteering at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic.


Resources available


While taking a gap year can often cost a lot of money, that doesn’t mean the gap year experience is limited only to those who can afford it. Many of the more expensive gap year programs offer need-based financial aid.


It is also important to remember that many self-designed gap year experiences can cost very little, or even provide the opportunity to earn money through jobs or paid internships. Alternatively, it could involve doing volunteer work while living at home. For volunteer experiences away from home, sometimes students get their travel and living expenses covered. Service opportunities are often voluntary and therefore unpaid, but programs such as AmeriCorps’ City Year provide stipends to cover room and board expenses.

而且許多自己設計的間隔年經歷可能花費很少,甚至提供了通過工作或帶薪實習賺錢的機會?;蛘?,也可以選擇在家做義工。至于離家在外的志愿者活動,有些可以報銷旅費和生活費。服務機會通常是自愿的,因此是無償的,但美國志愿隊的City Year等項目會提供食宿津貼。

For high school seniors contemplating deferring enrollment in college until they can be assured of having the on-campus experience they envisioned, May and early June is the time to consider gap year opportunities and to inform the college admissions office of their desire to delay their enrollment. Not all colleges have the same gap year policies, however, and some are reviewing them in the context of the current pandemic. For these reasons, it is important to learn what a particular college’s or university’s policies are and to make sure you meet the deadlines to inform the institution of your plans.