#NACACreads: Students Need Good Info about Gap Year

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gaptogreatartCounselors who take time to discuss gap year options provide a great service to college-bound students and their families, says author Andrea Wien.

Higher education is an expensive endeavor, and the grades and connections students make as freshmen can set the course for the rest of their college career.

That’s why teens who are burned out from high school — or just not developmentally ready for college — may benefit from taking a gap year to work, travel, or explore an area of interest, Wien said Wednesday during a #NACACreads Twitter discussion of her book, Gap to Great.

Research shows that students “come back to college after gap year refreshed and energized to tackle their studies,” Wien tweeted. “They party less, study more, switch majors less, graduate faster, and report higher GPAs” than their peers who enrolled in college immediately following high school.

Yet many students are hesitant to pursue the option. Counselors and college admission professionals can help “normalize” gap year options by sharing information and success stories with families, Wien said.

Gap year experiences have enormous potential to transform the way students look at their future and their place in the world. But they first need good information to help them plan their time away from the classroom.

“The gap year needs to be customized for the student. There is not a one size fits all approach,” Wien tweeted. “… the most important thing parents and counselors can do is to listen, listen, listen.”

View a transcript of the full chat and learn more about Gap to Great.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at mstegmeir@nacacnet.org.

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