More High School Students Want to Take a Time Out for a Year Before College

Filed under: In The News, Teen Culture, Education: Teens

Stress and burnout is leading more students to take a year off before starting college. Credit: Getty


Gimme a break is the new mantra of a growing number of high school students who say they are "burned out" and need to take a year off before heading to college.

Rather than packing for the dorms, they're volunteering in remote villages in India, working full time or venturing off on outdoor travel excursions, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Though this gap year is common in England, an increasing number of organized programs are popping up in the United States that help shepherd the experiences for students who want to take a year off to earn money for tuition, travel internationally or seek service opportunities before heading to college.

Increasingly, these program, such as USA Gap Year Fairs, are bringing together high school students, their parents and counselors with organized programs that focus on "education, service and personal growth," according to the USA Gap Year Fairs website. The programs, similar to college fairs, have grown from seven to 30 nationally, and are held in cities across the country.

Through Gap Years, students are linked with programs such as Dynamy Internship Year, a Worcester, Mass., residential internship program with the mission of offering young people ages 17 to 22 a transformational gap year (or semester) opportunity, which includes full-time mentoring internships with more than 240 organizations.

The programs are located across the country in urban and back country locations and include college and career advisement and optional college seminars, according to Dynamy's website.

A recent survey of 300,000 first-time freshmen at four-year colleges and universities found 1.2 percent waited a year to enter college, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles. However, the survey didn't track the students' reasons for postponing enrollment, the Journal reports.

But some experts attribute the time out to teens being wiped out from high school, according to the newspaper.

Burnout from the competitive pressure of high school and a desire "to find out more about themselves" are the top two reasons students take gap years, according to a survey of 280 people who did so by Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson of Advance, N.C., co-authors of a forthcoming guidebook on the topic, the Journal reports.

In response, more colleges and universities, including Amherst College, Princeton University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, are adopting formal policies allowing students to defer admission, the newspaper says.

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