Should Students Take a Year off after High School before They Go into College?

Free essayChapter 1: Introduction

The topic of the research addresses the evaluation of the question of whether students should take a year off after high school before they go into college. In other words, the research finds it significant to understand the benefits and / or the drawbacks of taking a year off after students have finished their high schools.

The research intends to understand the differences in the educational and professional excellence of the students who have taken the year off and those who decided to continue their education in college. It is also important to compare the individual characteristics of the students towards their future education after the gap year.

The research suggests that both personal qualities and professional competencies of those students who have pursued their education after the gap year is significantly higher compared to those who continued their education right after high school. In addition, the readiness to the professional experience of the students is much higher after the gap year.

Therefore, the hypothesis is that the students should make the most of benefits and opportunities while taking a gap year after high school. The major purpose of such an experience is to understand their predestination during the gap year through a series of actions that define as well as develop the potential of people for their future life.

The most important areas of experience are the activities such as internship, intellectual development, intercultural communication, identity transformation, additional training, volunteer work, decision-making, psychological development, maturity, reasoning skills, responsibility, values, successes, ability to solve problems, understanding community relations and family life, and finally, independence.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

In order to address the hypothesis of the research, it is important to adhere to the means of education, what it brings to students as well as what it should bring in case of both adequate attention to the educational process or the opposite. The education is the power that people can use in order to manage their future lives (Birch & Miller, 2007).

In fact, the better people focus on getting the right education, the better opportunities they obtain in lives. Therefore, once the person understands the means of true education, he or she will be more serious about it and would take personal and professional advantage of every taken class. In fact, the scenario of a student who goes into college right after school can negatively affect the future educational process. The reason behind it is that there is no trust and value in what the student learns in college (Heath, 2007).

Thus, no single class will have a benefit for the student, as one will not care to learn the material with persistence. The consequences of such a learning experience could be negative for the reason that one would not understand how to apply the knowledge in practice. In fact, young adults can understand life better in the real working and living environments.

Positive and negative experiences of a vast majority of people is the evidence that time and knowledge as well as the way of thinking and the close environment that the students obtain in their school and college years can lead to either success or failure both in their job and in personal life (Barnett, 2007).

Thus, a student should do everything possible in order to get maximum value and benefits from the educational process, especially during the college years. In fact, in case students reconsider their opinion about college education, they can change their future for the better even though the school years were not that successful (Martin, 2010).

The idea is that the direction is different and aims at the development of personality by understanding what one needs in life and even in potential business settings. This is the reason why each student should perceive the gap year as the great step towards the opportunities in future life (O’Shea, 2011).

Therefore, it is important to understand what students could do in order to concentrate on their educational process with maximum benefits for the future career and life as a whole. The answer is the intellectual development that students could obtain on the job. Yet, they have to gain an incentive that would motivate for the success in the future career (Baxtor, 2001).

In other words, intellectual development adheres to personal and professional growth as an individual with the purpose of developing the character. Thus, the process of educating oneself is a great solution that a student could master through additional experience (Macleod, 2001).

Such experience is an essential part of the educational process, but it is different from that in the college. In other words, a student has to find a different way to apply the interests, challenges, concerns, etc. by means to understand what one needs for the future personal life and / or professional careers (Brown, 2004).

Consequently, one should search for predestination, as this is what most people take as a vector of their educational experience and further employment. One of the best ways to understand the destiny from the professional point of view is the internship opportunity. The next step is to think of what one finds interesting, challenging and / or is curious about.

The most common way to understand one’s predestination is to engage oneself with the communication in a different cultural setting. For example, a student can choose the internship company not in the home country. Therefore, the travelling can help the personality to develop by means of observing a different culture and its traditions (Heath, 2007).

The other way to perceive one’s predestination is to understand the personal motivation factors. These may be anything, from communicating with people to constructing buildings and creating companies. The idea is to involve oneself into new spheres that are interesting and challenging to pursue (Birch & Miller, 2007).

There are much more ways to understand the predestination, and the overall idea is to do whatever is interesting and encouraging. In other words, the predestination should be any kind of action that inspires the soul for creativity. It is not that easy to find as it takes time to find the way of life, but this is what the gap year could help with (Barnett, 2007).

The search for the meaning of the future career opens the horizons of the other sides of life, its boundless dimensions that lead a person to a complete transformation of interests and beliefs as well as pushes a person to face another life. Alternatively, students should use their gap year to understand oneself and learn their inner world, reveal the identity and strive for personal growth and professional development (Martin, 2010).

Due to such an approach to their gap year, students can develop new skills and qualifications that are highly valuable in the educational process. Such an approach could help to treat education better and be more responsible and fair to oneself. In fact, this is much easier to manage in case one has an internship experience of working with other cultures and people with different interests in a variety of communities around the world (O’Shea, 2011).

After such a valuable gap year, students can gain new skills as well as learn how to behave in new environments. This is highly important, as this is what would happen in the college. For this reason, all the knowledge that a student gained during the gap year could apply to the educational practice, but with diligence and responsibility (Baxtor, 2001).

Moreover, both skills and qualities of students develop by means of personal growth during the gap year. Such a process takes time and requires a professional treatment in the college years. In this case, the best person to listen to and learn from is the professor in all the taken classes. In addition, one might also take advantage of a professional training in the subjects that one finds most interesting and challenging for the future career and life.

The gap year can help in understanding certain principles of business and life. The idea is not to hesitate, using all the opportunities with maximum benefits during both school and college years. In parallel, the international internship could serve as an additional knowledge, skills and experience that would change the perception of education in general.

Thus, a student will not neglect the education and all the classes, home assignments, group and individual projects, etc. It is also important that due to the internship experience, a student will have more advantages over others. For example, not all the people are easy to deal with, and those students who have an internship experience will have more benefits than the others will. Such a fact addresses the experiences, especially the communication skills, which are so important for the future career and personal life (Macleod, 2001).

In other words, the community work is valuable from the position of interactions with other people. It is also important for the reason that the students can understand the purpose of serving others. At the same time, they will recognize what qualities and competencies that they have are important for other people (Brown, 2004).

Such an approach serves as the basis for a predestination search as it reveals the core competencies of a student after one tries the work as a professional while planning to go into college. In fact, after such an experience during the gap year, a student will behave more adequately in relation to the educational practice (Heath, 2007).

One more way to recognize the benefits of the gap year is to engage into a volunteer work. For example, one could take advantage of working in a non-governmental organization as a volunteer for a project of interest. This would serve as a basis for the application of all the skills and knowledge obtained during the years of education, and it will serve as a source of identifying one’s strongest personal values and professional competencies (Macleod, 2001).

In other words, the gap year is an excellent opportunity to uncover one’s professional skills and qualifications as well as personal qualities in order to match them with the perspectives of one’s personality. Thus, students should perceive the gap year as a pursuit of independence in both business and life (Baxtor, 2001).

After the gap year is over, a student will have a great advantage over the others for the reason that he / she will have the skills and experience of solving problems and taking responsible decisions. In this case, students understand the true value of the gap year and treasure the educational process in the college (Martin, 2010).

One more aspect to concentrate on is health issues. In other words, a student should also mind the areas of personal health factors that add more strength to the body and soul. Thus, a person could be more effective in the educational practice. In particular, one should pay a special attention to personal growth and professional development through the prism of intellectual empowerment, including the aspects of healthy food, enough sleep, physical activities and even spiritual development (O’Shea, 2011).

The outcome of such a gap year, which is full of inter-cultural experiences as well as the examination of personal qualities and professional competencies, serves as the basis for the valuable future education, which would have even more benefits in the employment practice and personal life matters (Barnett, 2007).

In fact, the aspects of psychological development have a straight relation to intellectual development. Thus, those students who have taken a gap year are more mature than those who have not. They have more skills and experience and thus can use advanced reasoning in various situations in business and life (Heath, 2007).

Consequently, a gap year is the time when students learn to be responsible by being independent in a community. During this gap year, they learn to combine the vacation time and working practice. Thus, the year turns out to be a complete transformation of the set of beliefs that are important in the educational practice (Birch & Miller, 2007).

One more advantage of taking a gap year is the energy students get during this year. In other words, there is a great potential for the students who did not hesitate to take a year off before they go into college. They learned the art of involvement, experienced the cultural differences when interacting with other people, and perceived both local and global principles of living and working in a society (Brown, 2004).

As a result, a gap year serves as an alternative year of education from the position of practice. It helps to develop personal identity by means of searching for opportunities, understanding personal values, learning new skills, and delivering outstanding results. Thus, college years can be much successful with the great knowledge and experience of the gap year.

The literature review demonstrates a positive answer to the research question and proves the essential value of taking a year off before the college education. The outcomes of the research demonstrate that the students who took a gap year have more achievements that are significant in both personal and professional life compared to those students who refused to take a year off and decided to go into college right after the school (Martin, 2010).

In fact, the location has a great impact on the decisions of students about whether to take a year off or not. The outcomes of the research indicate that in the cities, a vast majority of people have a favorable attitude towards the gap year, and personal examples about such an educational practice were positive; students also took advantage of the gap year with the maximum benefits (O’Shea, 2011).

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

The findings of the literature review mostly support the need to pursue a gap year; however, there are skeptic opinions concerning the choices of students. In all, the literature review has proven to be positive towards the year off before college education. As a result, the students are more education-oriented as they know what they strive for; a vast majority of them has already identified their predestination due to their experience during the gap year.

Therefore, in order to prove or disapprove the hypothesis, the research offers to conduct an independent online survey and think of the most challenging questions to ask in order to support the hypothesis with the empirical evidence. In any research, there is always a need to discuss the facts of gathering the data, including the information about the conduction of the analysis, the way and the circumstances of it.

The research illustrates the data in graphs and tables to evaluate the important figures mentioned during the research. Thus, the research is going to be both exploratory and descriptive. The basis for the research is all kinds of information found upon the given scenarios, as well as the fact of online interactions with students in terms of the previously mentioned online survey held with the help of an electronic questionnaire.

In the given research, the idea is to reflect upon the possible implications of the great means of students’ potential for the education. The alternative source of information is numerous online literature resources and/or other related research studies that cover the aspects of taking a gap year.

The idea is to maintain the written information in order to understand the details of the decision-making of the students for and / or against the gap year. The overall focus goes towards the reading material as well as the online interviews with the students worldwide.

The research methodology addresses a complex approach to the process of gathering and analyzing the data. The core idea of the research is to apply both primary and secondary data to provide a reader with the graphical representation of the information about all the aspects of taking a gap year by the students after they finish school and before they go to college.

The online survey addresses the purpose of finding the answers to those questions that occurred during the literature review but did not cover enough data. Thus, the primary research has covered all the aspects that were important to address the objectives of the dissertation. In order to have more details about the primary data, the survey questions adhere to the important factors of taking a year off with all the consequent issues.

In order to meet the objectives of the research, it is important to address both primary and secondary data to have a global understanding about the attitude of students towards the gap year in today’s world. There are different ways of managing the methodology aspects; however, there will be two aspects of data analysis.

The secondary data will address the analysis of the data, researches, surveys, case studies, and reports in terms of the factors that have an impact on the decision-making of students towards the gap year.  At the same time, the research will address the aspects of the implications that have a close relation to the research.

Such an approach to the methodology is important mainly from the position of input and output of the data that is significant for the application of the retrieved data on the real practice of the taking a gap year by the students around the world. The purpose is to address the most significant factors that have an impact on the opinions of students globally.

At the same time, the research will determine the methodology outcomes from the position of challenges that could have an influence on the future of those students who have taken a year off and those who refused to do so. The conclusions and recommendations will go about both the theoretical frameworks and practical solutions from the perspective of the primary data that will go next in the research analysis.

The means of planning will adhere to the actions towards the stages of research in terms of collecting and analyzing the data, as well as managing the resources to support the point from different resources, etc. The idea is to think of the solutions that will have the best implications towards taking a year off before going into college.

For this reason, the second part of the research will address the outcomes from the survey of five hundred students all over the world. The questionnaire will consist of thirteen questions that will cover a variety of implications that interact with further perspectives of students, as well as the viewpoints on whether they should take a year off or not.

Thus, the overall research will turn out to be the combination of the primary and secondary data that will help to reveal the adequate information in order to offer the best solutions in the sphere of taking a gap year. The goal is to find the ways in which the answers to the questions of the survey can help people to find solutions to the current problems and challenges of the students in their countries. The outcomes of the primary data will also collect the information to offer the possible solutions and opinions towards taking a year off in the countries of research. In fact, these people agreed to provide the data openly and for the public usage.

The design of the questionnaire is important as it addresses the key information about the sample as well as the research projections towards the marketing research of the primary data. In addition, it will cover the range of answers that the research aims at by following the specific objectives of the research study. It helps to see the overall position of the online survey and provides the estimates of its results.

At the same time, all the findings and conclusions as well as the overall analysis of the survey are for the public usage. Moreover, there are no restrictions to any of the survey questions. However, the representatives agreed to participate in the survey under the condition of not disclosing their personal contact details for the public usage. Thus, the research meets the privacy needs of the participants within the framework of this research.

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In fact, the achievements of the students after the gap year are not limited to educational practice but also to personal gains, community experience, morality, intellectual and spiritual development. In all, there are different attitudes towards taking a year off. The overall achievements fully depend on people and their personalities.

However, some people strongly believe that all the experience that students received during the gap year is equal to the college and / or university experience. In other words, there are people who claim that the gap year has little to do with obtaining all the experience mentioned above and students can learn everything in colleges and universities.

Nevertheless, the experience of both categories of students depends on their age, previous academic achievements, and finally, their location. Despite of this view, there are more claims in favor of the gap year than there are against it. The findings claim that the performance of those students who went to college after the gap year is high compared to those who managed to go to college right after the school.

Chapter 4: Data Analysis and Findings

The online research study holds the sample data on the number of 500 students from Europe, Canada, United States, and Asia Pacific. All the participants used the same online questionnaire for this research study. In addition, the participants replied to the questions sincerely and openly in order to guarantee the most accurate findings.

In fact, the details of the questionnaire answers indicate only the percentages in order to make the comprehension of the data easy to follow. All the findings below offer both the tables and graphs for the graphical depiction of the data analysis:

  1. Where do you live and study?

Table 1.

Answer Count Percent
Europe 132 26%
Canada 98 20%
United States 154 31%
Asia Pacific 116 23%
Total 500 100%
  1. Are you a male or female?

Table 2.

Percent Males Females
Europe 13% 11%
Canada 9% 8%
United States 25% 22%
Asia Pacific 7% 5%
Total 54% 46%
  1. Do you prefer taking a year off or continue the education in college of your country? Please, select one of the options below: yes, no.

Table 3.

Percent Yes No
Europe 24% 7%
Canada 15% 9%
United States 19% 5%
Asia Pacific 16% 5%
Total 74% 26%
  1. Do you think that the gap year opportunities are acceptable within your country? Please, rate using one of the answers below: completely acceptable, very acceptable, moderately acceptable, slightly acceptable, not acceptable at all.

Table 4.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
Completely acceptable 9 11 10 7 37%
Very acceptable 3 5 9 5 22%
Moderately acceptable 4 4 7 3 18%
Slightly acceptable 2 2 6 4 14%
Not acceptable at all 1 2 4 2 9%
Total 19% 24% 36% 21% 100%
  1. What values are you trying to perceive during the gap year? Please, select one of the options below: leadership potential, self-confidence, thinking style, emotional intelligence, moral courage?

Table 5.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
 Leadership potential 5 4 5 3 17%
 Self-confidence 8 7 5 2 22%
Thinking style 5 10 7 9 31%
Emotional intelligence 4 5 3 4 16%
Moral courage 3 5 4 2 14%
Total 25% 31% 24% 20% 100%
  1. Do you think internship opportunities are favorable in your country? Please, rate using one of the answers below: favorable, unfavorable, not sure.

Table 6.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
Favorable 12 14 17 9 52%
Unfavorable 8 9 14 6 37%
Not sure 2 2 3 4 11%
Total 22% 25% 34% 19% 100%
  1. How many projects / activities are you planning to pursue during the gap year? Please, select one of the answers below: 0-5 projects, 5-10 projects, 10-20 projects, 20-30 projects, 30 + projects.

Table 7.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
0-5 projects 6 8 12 7 33%
5-10 projects 5 6 9 4 24%
10-20 projects 3 5 6 3 17%
20-30 projects 4 4 4 5 17%
30 + projects 2 3 1 3 9%
Total 20% 26% 32% 22% 100%
  1. Do you think you will gain the appropriate skills and qualifications during the gap year? Please, select one of the answers below: positive, negative, I do not know.

Table 8.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
Positive 14 20 23 9 66%
Negative 7 9 6 4 26%
I do not know 1 2 3 2 8%
Total 22% 31% 32% 15% 100%
  1. Based on your assumptions, in what way are you going to improve yourself? Please, select one of the options below: personal growth, professional development, both.

Table 9.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
Personal growth 7 13 14 6 40%
Professional development 5 6 12 11 34%
Both 4 8 9 5 26%
Total 16% 27% 35% 22% 100%
  1. Do you agree that taking a year off will empower you with more personal qualities and professional characteristics? Please, select one of the answers below: yes, indeed, to an extent, maybe, not sure, absolutely not.

Table 10.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
Yes, indeed 8 10 13 8 39%
To an extent 5 6 7 5 23%
Maybe 4 4 5 4 17%
Not sure 3 3 4 3 13%
Absolutely not 2 2 2 2 8%
Total 22% 25% 31% 22% 100%
  1. Which value principles are you missing and will try to gain during the gap year? Please, select one of the alternatives below: autonomy, competence, enjoyment, friendship, gratitude, independence, loyalty, open-mindedness, competition, cooperation, and creativity.

Table 11.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
Autonomy 2 3 3 1 9%
Competence 1 2 2 1 6%
Enjoyment 3 4 3 3 13%
Friendship 4 3 4 2 13%
Gratitude 2 4 3 3 12%
Independence 2 3 4 2 11%
Loyalty 1 2 2 1 6%
Open-Mindedness 1 1 1 1 4%
Competition 2 2 3 2 9%
Cooperation 2 3 3 2 10%
Creativity 1 2 2 2 7%
Total 21% 29% 30% 20% 100%
  1. Do you think you will be more prepared to start your education in college after the gap year? Please, select one of the answers below: yes, no.

Table 12.

Percent Males (yes) Females (yes) Males (no) Females (no) Total
Europe 6 9 4 2 21%
Canada 8 12 5 1 26%
United States 10 15 7 3 35%
Asia Pacific 4 7 3 4 18%
Total 28% 43% 19% 10% 100%
  1. In your opinion, what are the factors that have the most impact on your personal identity during the gap year? Please, select one of the options below: integrity, responsibility, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, self-commitment, justice, self-discipline, humility, care for others, and wisdom.

Table 13.

Percent Europe Canada United States Asia Pacific Total
Integrity 3 4 3 3 13%
Responsibility 2 3 4 3 12%
Compassion 3 3 2 1 9%
Forgiveness 2 2 2 2 8%
Generosity 2 3 3 2 10%
Self-commitment 3 2 2 2 9%
Justice 2 2 2 1 7%
Self-discipline 3 3 3 2 11%
Humility 1 2 1 3 7%
Care for others 2 3 2 1 8%
Wisdom 1 1 3 1 6%
Total 24% 28% 27% 21% 100%

The primary research data proves the hypothesis in all the dimensions. The achievements of the gap year students are more determined and profound. The only difference is that female students postpone the education in college more often than male students do. Besides, the findings claim that after the gap year, students have better chances of success in college even though they did not have good grades at school.

A gap year has a great number of advantages for those students who agreed to pursue it. Such students also have more strengths and capabilities of dealing with educational challenges, including the understanding of different cultures due to their internship practice, improved decision-making, and even psychological development.

In other words, the completion of a gap year that is full of challenges creates a completely different personality compared to the beginning of the same gap year. It builds self-confidence, creates a basis for spiritual perspectives, faith, different community advantages, including a better understanding of the relationships and at times family life.

Chapter 5: Conclusions

Overall, the students who had a positive experience about the gap year have enhanced characteristics in all the areas of education and student life in college. One more aspect that has a strong impact on the decisions of students concerning the gap year is their age. The findings claim that the older the students become, the more they are likely to take a year off before they go into college (Baxtor, 2001).

Therefore, a gap year has both psychological and educational perspectives towards the values of students as well as their future career and life. In addition, when comparing to the motivation of students before and after the gap year, those students who did not have any willingness to continue their education in college change their opinions in favor of such an educational experience (Macleod, 2001).

The core emphasis of the students is on demographic factors, lack of motivation, and poor performance after the school years. Hence, gap year serves as the solution to students’ problems and challenges and at the same time makes them ready for further education in college and / or university (Brown, 2004).

Thus, a gap year tends to be the solution to encourage the motivation for future education through the experience obtained and overall maturity gained during the gap year. Students become more aware of their directions in both business and life. They understand the significance of their choices along with the career path, level of skills, personal growth, and professional development (Heath, 2007).

In other words, motivation and achievements play an important role in students’ participation in the educational process after the gap year. In fact, those students who experienced the advantages of the gap year have better results and enhanced performance in the labor market. The reason for such a performance is that they learned to capitalize their resources during the gap year practice and use these skills in order to advance their college studies to have a better position in the marketplace (Birch & Miller, 2007).

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