It’s February, Do You Know What Your Seniors Are Doing Next Year?

GapYearIn yesterday’s Research + News, I highlighted a new, groundbreaking book by Josheph O’Shea Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs (Johns Hopkins University Press). Since I first heard of the concept and researched the many Christian Gap Year options, I’ve been an advocate for students and parents to consider taking “time-off” before going to college. It’s not for everyone, for sure, and there certainly are benefits to going to college right after high school. But I also think that a Gap Year should, at least, be on our “radar screens” as we make decisions about life after high school.

And now, it appears, recent research is making a strong case as well! In his article for Inside Higher Ed, “Don’t Go to College Next Year,” Dr. O’Shea writes:

“The challenges of our time demand an educational system that can help young people to become citizens of the world. We need our students to be smart, critical and innovative thinkers but also people of character who use their talents to help others. Gap years help young adults understand themselves, their relationships, and the world around them, which deepens capacities and perspectives crucial for effective citizenship. They help students become better thinkers and scholars, filled with passion, purpose, and perspective.”

YouLostMe_bookI’ve also had many opportunity to discuss  the benefits of taking a Gap Year in a variety of outlets. I include a discussion of taking a Gap Year in the College Transition Seminar; I have a page devoted to Gap Year in my book Make College Count; my article “God in the Gap Year: The Benefits of Taking Time Off Before Going to College” (.pdf) is the most downloaded article on this site; and when Barna Group president David Kinnaman asked me to contribute an “idea for change” for his book You Lost Me: Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church and Rethinking Faith, I wrote “Take a Gap Year.”

I also provide a growing list of Christian Gap Year programs here. And I have a 60-second radio show talking about taking a Gap Year here.

All this to say… the conversation is in the air! Students and parents are beginning to re-think “life after high school” in some creative and helpful ways. The video above is from Gap Year Now, a website that “exists to educate and resource students considering a gap year. Gap Year Now is sponsored by Focus One, a Gap Year program located in Rockford, Illinois.

It’s exciting to be a part of this conversation. The years between 18-25 are formative. I think taking a Gap Year can allow time for God to form and shape students in the way the world needs!