Gap Year: Should You Be Like Malia?

The Atlantic: “When the Obamas announced Sunday that their eldest daughter, Malia, will attend Harvard University, they also revealed that she will take part in what is becoming an increasingly popular tradition in the United States: the gap year … Harvard in particular encourages this practice, and as a result, between 80 and 110 of their students choose to do so each year.”

“In an article on the university’s website, William Fitzsimmons and Marlyn E. McGrath of Harvard’s admissions department, and Charles Ducey, a lecturer in psychology, assert that a gap year could be an answer to the burnout faced by ultra-ambitious students as they compete to gain entrance into the ‘right’ college followed by the ‘right’ graduate schools, and the ‘right’ sequence of jobs, in order to live in the ‘right’ kinds of communities.”

However: “Students who choose to delay are at considerable risk of not completing a postsecondary credential when compared with their peers who enroll immediately after high school graduation, says a National Center for Education Statistics study … But Joe O’Shea … author of Gap Year,” counters: “The greater the resilience, grit, and tenacity of a student, the more likely they are to complete a degree … taking the time to undertake the gap year that is structured and challenging can help reform a student’s identity and … make it more likely that they’re going to go to college and graduate.”