Filling in the school year gaps

A lot can happen in a year. Taking time off from school or work to expand knowledge and experience is one of them.

In college, this is often referred to as a gap year.

Don Rosenblum, Ph.D., dean of the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences, said he defines a gap year as time out between high school and college or between college and graduate work or between graduate work and a professional career. Rosenblum said that he believes that gap years can be beneficial to students and can help them discover what their focuses are.

“It can’t be a vacation or vegging out on a couch,” he said. “It has to be purposeful and planned. It can generate new plans or confirm one’s purpose.”

Carleen Pallante, assistant director of campus relations in the Office of Career Development, said students might take a gap year before graduate school if they haven’t figured out what they want to do. Pallante said students can get a job or volunteer in a field they are interested in or interview people who are in the field.

“Sometimes students will volunteer with the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps and find out more about what kind of job they would like in the future or maybe they just want to make a difference before they go into the actual working world,” she said.

Pallante said that the only waste of a gap year would be not thinking about the future and that students need to make the most of their time.

She said that students should know what their goals are before pursuing graduate school.

“If you needed to have a graduate degree for the career that you choose, then you definitely should go on to grad school,” she said. “If you’re not sure about the career options that you want, getting a job might be a better option for you so that you actually get experience and know a little bit more about what you want to do.”

Junior business administration major Johnny Brooks, said that even though he’s not sure if he’s going to graduate school, he wouldn’t take a gap year.

“I would just go straight forward because I’m already in the mode,” he said. “And if I take a year off, I’ll experience what I’ll be experiencing after graduate school. I’m not going to be enthused about going back to school.”

Rosenblum said that for a lot of students, college is simply another part of life, so a gap year is a stepping stone to another stage.

“A student who takes a gap year finds that he or she comes back to school with a new commitment,” he said. “It’s not just another year. It’s an experience you can’t get while you’re in school.”

Rosenblum said that he believes that a student who takes a gap year will probably be a better candidate for graduate school.

“They will be more relaxed and be more mature with more life experience under their belt,” he said.

Amy Peters, junior dance major, agreed. She said she might consider taking a gap year if she doesn’t get into graduate school.

“If you’re trying to get to grad school and you don’t for some reason, then you can have that year to maybe increase your knowledge more or try again the next year,” she said.

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