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Gap Year Debate

Over the years, many students have been opting to defer their start of college by almost a year. This is referred to as the gap year.  A gap year between high school and start of college counts favorably for college applicants.  There are several colleges in California which encourage gap years. They are ten in total and include Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California Baptist University in Riverside, California Maritimd Academy in Vallejo, California State University – Chico, California State University – Fresno, California State University – San Bernardino, Cal Poly- San Luis Obispo, Chapman University in Orange, Seaver- Pepperdine College in Malibu, and Soka University in Alisa Viejo (Gap Year Association, n.p). These colleges have varying rates of acceptance.

Gap years, long popular in Australia and Europe have gained popularity in the U.S (Korn, n.p).  There are one hundred and sixty five (I65) universities and colleges in the U.S that encourage gap years.  The colleges are unevenly distributed in the various states with some having up to eleven and some having just one. The state of New York has the highest concentration with seventeen (17) colleges. California has ten.  Several states have just one college. These include Nevada, Montana, Mississippi, Washington D.C, and Louisiana among others. The universities that encourage gap years include some of the well-known and prestigious Ivy League universities such as  Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale, Dartmouth and Columbia University.Gap Year Debate

Gap years may be organized by different companies and they may involve programs to work in other countries or domestically. Programs that incorporate paid work are highly competitive and only a few qualify. For example, The Americorps’ City Year is hard to get into and selects only about 25 percent (one in four) applicants.

The main objective of taking a gap year may not necessarily be about maximizing earnings so that they can be used to offset future student loans. Rather, a gap is intended to help students reflect on what careers they would like to get into and what majors to study at college. Yes, college is expensive and many students find themselves with a mountain of debt once they graduate from school. But using a gap year to purely work and save up for college denies students the chance to rack up rewarding experiences, build their work ethic, and maximize their personal insight.

Hard to get into programs like AmeriCorp’s City Year award students on gap years the Segal Education Award at the end of their service year. All students enrolled in the program are eligible and may earn up to $6,000, which they can use to pursue higher education and offset any existing student loans. Also, the Segal Education Award is augmented by over a hundred (100) U.S. universities and colleges. The augmentation can be in the form of matching the student’s award amount, offering course credits, waiving registration fees, and offering service scholarships.Gap Year Debate

City Year is also exceedingly generous to gap year students because the program allows them to request that their “qualified federal student loans be put into forbearance” (CityYear, n.p).  When the students complete their terms, they can go ahead and request the “accrued interest be paid by the National Service Trust.” The National Service Trust is the federal administrator of the education benefits of AmeriCorps.

Besides the Segal Education Award, AmeriCorps’ City Year has formed partnerships with more than a hundred (100) leading universities and colleges to provide full-paid scholarships to the programs alumni at the undergraduate and graduate levels of study. Each year, the program has a budget of over $3,000,000 dollars worth of scholarships to be awarded to City Year alumni (CityYear, n.p). These scholarships shield beneficiaries from racking up student debt while in college and help them to graduate debt free.

What should be noted is that AmeriCorps’ City Year only accepts only a small percentage of applicants and therefore, only a few benefit from the education awards and scholarships. Many students who take up a gap year may not do so to get into temporary employment to rack up financial savings.

The gap year experiences positively influences the choice of career and academic major of most students. This is because it maximizes personal insight and self-reflection. Students gain purpose and clarity and can hand in polished admission essays. However, the gap year does not necessarily align students to particular majors or professional field but instead enhances their decision making. The gap year develops a student’s competence and cross-cultural understanding. Exposure of students to people, communities, and environments different from theirs awaken their social justice awareness. Therefore, the students are most likely to get into social welfare programs such as public policy, education, public health, education, social work, and business. The wide range of programs is also, what most City Year alumni who benefit from their scholarships mainly enroll in upon completion of their gap year.Gap Year Debate

Gap year between high school and college is a phenomenon that is taking ground in the United States. Many California colleges and universities encourage gap years for their incoming or continuing students. Elsewhere, few gap year programs offer stipends or paid work.

Works Cited

CityYear. “Compensation Benefits | City Year.” Cityyear.org. N.p., 2019. Web. 6 Nov. 2019.

Gap Year Association, “Gap Year Data & Benefit.” Gapyearassociation.org. N.p., 2019. Web. 6 Nov. 2019.

Gap Year Association. “University Deferral Policies for Gap Years”Gapyearassociation.org/fav-coolleges.php. N.p., 2019. Web. 6 Nov. 2019.

Korn, Melissa. “Welcome To College. Now Take A Year Off.” WSJ. N.p., 2018. Web. 6 Nov. 2019.