“How many of you would love to take a gap year right now?” Holly Bull, an independent student gap year adviser asked a room full of college counselors early on Saturday morning.
A groggy audience sprang to life, all hands shooting up at a lecture entitled “Gap Year: American Style” at the National Association of College Counselors conference in New Orleans.
The idea of taking time off between high school and college — a self-exploratory sabbatical in the free spirit of 1970s — has increasingly become a structured concept in the United States, with counselors like Ms. Bull linking students and parents up with formal programs.
As the number of students who opt to take a gap year has grown, so, too, has awareness of gap year benefits to the student, said Robert Clagett, former dean of admissions at Middlebury College (and formerly an admissions officer at Harvard).
Mr. Clagett said he is compiling data from institutions across the country on gap year student performance once they matriculate, and he cited Middlebury’s own statistics of recent years.
The data demonstrated that average G.P.A. for Middlebury students who took a break — 35 people this year — was consistently higher than that of those who did not. (He noted that self-selection could be partly at play, that gap year students are typically more affluent and may have some different, unifying qualities.) Read more.