It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that some current high school seniors are currently debating whether or not to take a gap year next year. After all, a four year college experience is supposed to be the best four years of your life — or close to it (although that sounds a little depressing for those approximately 22 years of age and older). A college education within the confines of one’s childhood bedroom doesn’t exactly sound like an incredible experience to us. You see, we have long argued on the pages of this college admissions blog and in the press that the biggest differentiator between America’s highly selective universities — like the Ivy League colleges — and the less selective universities is not the in-classroom education. We have never once argued that a student will learn a whole lot more in an introductory psychology class at Harvard University as compared to that same class as Rutgers University. But we have argued that attending college with intellectually curious, engaged, passionate future movers and shakers is a major differentiator between a Harvard education and a Rutgers education. Sorry, Rutgers. So what is a current high school senior to do?
Gap Years Are En Vogue
We absolutely understand why many high school seniors are considering taking a gap year. While gap years weren’t so popular before the current pandemic, they’re all the rage right now (at least according to news outlets!). Yes, more students are considering doing what Malia Obama did by deferring her admission to Harvard. As Dan McLaughlin writes for National Review in a piece entitled “The Coming Gap-Year Gap,” “ABC News reported that ‘Nearly one in six graduating seniors, according to a poll by the Baltimore-based Art & Science Group, now indicate that due to the coronavirus pandemic, they will likely revise their plans of attending a four-year college in the fall and take a gap year,’ and sentiment is rising as well for time off among students already enrolled.” Who wants to start their college education from mom and dad’s basement? That’s where you go after college — not before! We kid, we kid.
Our Stance on Gap Years for Class of 2024
We believe the media is overhyping the percentage of students who will be taking gap years next year. Look, the number is going to be up — no question (especially among international students). More students will be taking a gap year next year than any year in history. But the vast majority of domestic students will not be pursuing gap years next year. They’ve already finished Netflix. And Amazon, Hulu, Disney+, and Apple TV+. Parents don’t want their children lounging around the house all day with nothing to do. They want them engaged. They want them to be learning — even if that means beginning college online if college campuses are closed this coming fall. And we support these parents. With exception to some (or potentially all) of our international students who may not be able to begin college next year, we advise our students at Ivy Coach against taking a gap year next year. Just start college. Students will have plenty of time to immerse themselves in campus life once this pandemic settles down.
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