Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gap Year

I am all for the gap year. This is when your burnt out, stressed out student takes a year off between high school and college to explore the world, volunteer with an organization or otherwise explore a compelling interest they have prior to committing to spending four more years in school. Australia has institutionalized this practice (the academic walkabout), Great Britain is not far behind, and, finally, America is figuring out that this may be a good thing.

This is not, as some students may believe, the totally best time to master your video gaming skills. Or live in your parents' basement while your mom continues to cook all of your meals and do your laundry. If you are one of the parents who does this, please, do yourself and your child a favor, and stop.

The Davidson School in Nevada has published a very handy guide to what a gap year is/not, how to pay for it, how to prepare for it (going in and coming out), and how to select an appropriate project. This school is focused mostly on students who might be finishing high school early and need some time to mature and figure out what they want prior to more formal studies, but  a gap year can be a brilliant, enriching, life-changing experience. The guide tells you that you should be able to look back at the end of the year and think, "That changed my life."

Video game high scoring does not qualify.

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