It’s right for Malia Obama, but is a gap year right for you?

Michigan students have an incredibly rich number of college choices, and thanks to Malia Obama, many more students are well aware of another choice for life after high school: the gap year.

Gap years have been around for years, but now that it’s a choice of the First Daughter, more students are wondering if this is a path they should take, too. Making a good decision about gap years begins with separating fact from fiction, so it’s important to know:

What is a gap year?

Students take a gap year when they’re interested in doing something other than going to school. Gap year plans vary widely from student to student, but they often include plans to travel, work, spend time with family, complete a focused volunteer activity, or take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime activity that just can’t wait until college is over.

Some of my students have taken gap years to teach English in another country, travel to Africa to help build and open a school, and improve their athletic skills in a semi-professional sports team. The choices truly are endless.

How does a student design a gap year?

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Tue, 05/10/2016 - 9:46am
How's this any different than the old idea of the kid who doesn't know what they want to do so they get a job and work or going in the military before (maybe) going on to college? What's new? Unfortunately in our world, our President just gives cachet to a new ideal of spending another year living off mom and dad and playing a lot of video games ... ah, I mean doing good deeds.
Geoffery Stevens
Thu, 06/09/2016 - 4:27pm
Didn't realize there were One year military enlistment options.
Carol Waltman
Tue, 06/21/2016 - 9:44am
There are no one year enlistments, but the gap can be for more than one year. My youngest graduated high school with a mediocre GPA, took a year of trade school (diesel mechanics) and worked for three years before deciding to go to college. He graduated with high honors in Geology and went on to his MS in Environmental Sciences while working. There are many paths to gaining the maturation and focus that will make the cost of higher education worthwhile.
dick b
Tue, 05/10/2016 - 1:55pm
Many years ago when I graduated HS, I couldn't wait to get to college. There were no community colleges when I went off to school. It wound up being a big mistake, I was ready, intellectually, but not ready emotionally or socially. I needed some structure, but got none. I was on my own, but not ready for that. That's why many students should consider taking a gap year (or two) to grow up before going off on their own. Staying at home and going to a community college for a year or two has several advantages; students still have some structure at home, yet have enough freedom to spread their wings; financially, it is a no-brainer, and one can get credits transferred to a university, saving a lot of money. The military has many occupations besides combat, and their training is top notch. They also have the discipline necessary for success in college, and in life. It is not a bad career choice in itself.
Geoffery Stevens
Thu, 06/09/2016 - 4:29pm
A "gap" year for travel and enrichment are a wonderful use of time. It would be great if college were more affordable to more students would have the option of an enriching "gap" year.
Carol Waltman
Tue, 06/21/2016 - 9:39am
Wonderful, but not very realistic.
Carol Waltman
Tue, 06/21/2016 - 9:45am
As my dear departed Grandpa used to say, people place far less value on that which is given to them and are less likely to utilize it properly.