Thinking about a Gap Year? Consider the Research!


With the coronavirus pandemic raising doubts about the feasibility of in-person classes next year, a growing number of high school grads are considering taking a gap year.

But what should families know about this option? Education reporter Elissa Nadworny recently shared some important insights with National Public Radio listeners.

“Research has shown that those who do a gap year—so that’s (a) specific time away with a clear enrollment plan—they do really well when they get to college. They tend to be whiter and wealthier and have highly educated parents,” Nadworny said in a segment that aired earlier this month. “At the same time, we know that for many students, when they simply delay enrollment or they put off college to work to save money, the longer they wait, the harder it is to get a degree. And that’s especially true for low-income students.”

All students do best when their time away from the classroom is planned and structured, she added.

Options for students to consider this fall include taking community colleges courses or participating in a national service program like AmeriCorps or City Year, Nadworny said. And across the country, many formal gap year programs (some which are run by colleges) continue to enroll students, according to recent media reports.

“Whatever students decide, I keep hearing from advisers and counselors that they just need to make sure that there is a plan to get to graduation,” Nadworny said.

Listen to the full segment and read more about planning a gap year.

Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at

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