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Gap year

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Gap Year “Not every 17-year-old is ready to enter college, and a gap year allows them to be in the real world, do service and approach college much more deliberately.” (Giannino). The increased focus, maturity and motivation that gappers obtain, has led more high-school guidance counselors and college admissions officers to suggest gap years to high school achievers and strugglers alike. Teenagers in the United States should follow a long running British tradition of taking a year off, or gap year, after graduation from high school in order to become more independent, experience different cultures and save money for college. Like many motivated, focused high school students, Lillian Kivel had worked hard academically and in community service in hopes that her efforts would win her acceptance into a good college. Trouble was Ms. Kivel’s focus was much less clear when she had to decide which college to attend. At the suggestion of friends, Ms. Kivel decided to take a gap year. She sought an opportunity to gain life experience and focus her goals. A head start in college and in life. “Opportunity to explore my interests outside the classroom.” (Kivel). To fill her spring months, Ms. Kivel turned to gap-year consultant Holly Bull, to help her sift through more than 100 different programs in China. She will live with a host family in Shanghai, study Chinese language history and culture in a classroom setting, while also teaching English to Children (Gutner). “I have gained so much by becoming more responsible and independent, while also exploring my interests (Kivel).” Princeton University became the first school to formalize a gap year program. Students will be invited to apply after they have been accepted to the school. The program will send students for a year of social service work in a foreign country. Students would not be charged tuition and will be eligible for financial aid. That was Sabrina Skau’s strategy; she spent three months teaching English in a small Costa Rican Town. She taught Spanish at her local high school in Portland, Ore., for two months. Also spending three months working in a hospital and orphanage in Cordova, Argentina. Wrapping up the year with a five-week Spanish program in Barcelona. “The gap year prepared me to be much more focused and independent at college because I have already been away on my own (Skau).” Just like Lillian Kivel and Sabrina Skau, Monika Lutz toke off the gap year. Instead of wanting to head off to college, the high school graduate packed her bags for a Bengali jungle. Lutz has put a fourteen month schedule that includes helping deliver solar power to impoverished communities in India and interning for a fashion designer in Shanghai. “I could not be happier (Lutz).” “This experience has really opened my eyes to the opportunities the world has to offer (Lutz)”. No one’s Gap-year enthusiasm was more tempered than Olivia Ragni’s. Spring of 2009, high school student from Arkadelphia, Ark., inadvertently missed the deadline to secure her spot at Rico University that fall and was told she would have to wait a year to enroll. But through two experiential-learning organizations, she spent the year volunteering in a hospital in India, taking intensive Spanish while hiking volcanoes in Guatemala and working at an elephant camp in Thailand. “I gained confidence and independence; it was the best experience of my life (Ragni).” High school guidance counselors generally recommended a gap year only to students who needed to mature. Pausing for twelve months also gives a family a chance to make a realistic budget. The average student-loan debt among graduating college seniors last year was nearly $23,200; plenty of middle-class youngsters who are shacked by $70,000 or more in debt before they even begin graduate school. Several European countries promote a 13th year that allows teenagers to earn money, take some courses and travel. Some families are reportedly delaying college until the extra money is available. American colleges need to encourage gappers. Reed College, liberal arts school in Portland, allows admitted students to defer entrance for a year, after submitting a plan for their activities that year. Freshmen who delay college for a year tend to be more altruistic and empathetic because brain development continues into late adolescence. There is a bonus for colleges and students in making the gap year widespread. Like Ms. Kivel was able to remain on her parent’s insurance policy. She funded the $12,000 cost of her Shanghai semester from savings from a part-time job and help from her parents. “I’m just thrilled to be taking the year off (Kivel).”

Works Cited
Gregory, Sean. "Time Out: Gauging the Value of a Gap Year before College, Is the Gap Year worth It?" The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 21 Sept. 2010. Web. 29 Oct. 2013.
Gunter, Toddi. "The Jungle. New High-School Elective: Put Off College." Time Magazine. N.p.,
30 Dec. 2008. Web. 29 Oct. 2013.
Smith, Gwyneth T., Jr. "Advice for the College-bound: Wait and Enjoy the Rewards." The
Oregonian. Oregon live, 15 Nov. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Cited: Gregory, Sean. "Time Out: Gauging the Value of a Gap Year before College, Is the Gap Year worth It?" The Wall Street Journal. N.p., 21 Sept. 2010. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. Gunter, Toddi. "The Jungle. New High-School Elective: Put Off College." Time Magazine. N.p., 30 Dec. 2008. Web. 29 Oct. 2013. Smith, Gwyneth T., Jr. "Advice for the College-bound: Wait and Enjoy the Rewards." The Oregonian. Oregon live, 15 Nov. 2009. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

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