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Cutting Room Floor

Is There a "Gap Year" Gap?

Almost halfway through September, most people who are heading off to college have done it by now. Then, there are those who choose to push college off for a year or two. When I graduated from high school, I had the big idea to run off and travel for a year. The usual cliche: an American student backpacking through Europe. Logic won out in the end, and somehow turning down the admissions and scholarship offers just didn't seem worth it. So, when I read this Washington Post Magazine last month, I was hit with a little bit of nostalgia. Apparently, taking a year off isn't for us slackers anymore... it's turned into a whole industry:

the irony is that the gap year risks becoming like just another award studding the resumes of students on the elite academic track. Some colleges and universities are even starting to promote the gap year as a way to gain admission. Georgetown University occasionally asks a few students to take a gap year and defer enrollment so that the school can hang on to more of the best high school students after the incoming freshman class has reached its capacity. And on its admissions Web site, Harvard University acknowledges the usefulness of a gap year while sympathizing with the academic straitjackets of today's uber high-schooler. In an essay titled "Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation," the dean and director of admissions offer this tantalizing line: "Occasionally students are admitted to Harvard or other colleges in part because they accomplished something unusual during a year off."

Schools now ask students to take a year off?!?! I may head back to college. I skipped out on the gap year, but it seems like most people who took that gap year spent it traveling. Now, it may be more about finding something impressive to say on that college essay than finding yourself. Anyone take a gap year? What did you do, and did it affect your college plans... in a good way, or bad?