Malia Obama won't be the first child of a president to be accepted into Harvard University, but her decision to take a gap year sets her apart from the traditional college-bound student. As the gap year trend gains popularity in the US, there is still some reluctance in putting pause on a college education. Could it pose some trouble for those who aren’t socialites?
Despite her father's advice to "not stress too much about one particular college," or focus on name-brand, Malia chose to attend one of the nation's most prestigious and expensive universities. Come fall of 2017, she’s expected to add her name to the long line of ultra-wealthy celebrities and American figures who attended Harvard, including John Adams II, Abraham Lincoln’s son, and John F. Kennedy's daughter.
What exactly is a gap year? It is the time students defer from attending college, right out of high school, in order to pursue other avenues such as traveling, gaining work experience, and getting in touch with their inner soul and desires prior to settling into what could be considered a form of adulthood. One person's productive gap year could easily be another's 12-month vacation. There's been no word as to what Malia will do during this gap year, but a survey indicated that many students focus on personal growth, traveling and experiencing cultures, while taking a break from academics. This gap could serve as a good time to increase community service and learn skills you may not otherwise learn during college. Essentially, a way to avoid the "growing rate of student burn-outs."
Taking a year off could be pricey and not ideal for low-income students. According to one study, the "majority of people who do not go straight to college after high school end up having a much harder time completing their degrees...getting married, having a baby, becoming financially responsible for siblings, or losing academic motivation "may truncate one's higher education pursuits. While the American Gap Association boasts success with students who took a gap year, the majority of the students had college-educated parents and came from household incomes of more than $100,000 a year. These students already have a greater likelihood for success; many of them having parents who could pay their college tuition. Furthermore, federal financial aid waits for no one. Students would have to apply for the year in which they would enroll which could consequentially "make it harder for students on aid to plan a gap year." And while Harvard condones a gap year, the trend is not widely-accepted at other colleges and universities.
Do you think a gap year is a good option for students? Trying to find yourself by putting college off may come with a price. While some students take a gap year to work minimum wage and help fund their college education, we believe that you should be rewarded for your academic, athletic, and extracurricular achievements without having to take time off school. Tuition prices are only increasing, and won't remain stagnant even as you take a gap year. The best way to make college affordable is through free money: scholarships.