Thursday, April 26, 2007

Homeschoolers - Delaying College


Sometimes starting college means deferring entry for a year, also called deferred matriculation or "gap year".

Yes, you read this correctly, there are colleges out there that either may ask you to go off and do something interesting with your life before settling down to pursue college coursework, or they will allow you to do it if you ask. Some may even offer many benefits to those students who defer for a year.Here is an example web page from Harvard on the subject of deferred matriculation.

Why would colleges ask you to do such a thing?
Well for one thing they try to offset some of their large freshman classes and it relieves the problem of crowded freshman dormitories.

Many students already have a fully loaded senior year of high school (homeschoolers included!!) and admissions officers are seeing a larger pool of very qualified students. They send out many application acceptances and cannot predict well enough how many of those will turn into actual attendees. They also have seen that too many students show up pretty burned out by their freshman semester. So in response, colleges have seen that it is a good idea to have the option for students to take a year off and relax, travel and work a bit. On Harvard’s web site there is a paper entitled “Time Out; Or Burn Out for the Next Generation” which outlines opportunities available to explore during an interim year. Personally I know of one young man who worked and traveled through 5 continents before he started his freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania.

One of the biggest benefits that colleges like Harvard, Dartmouth and UPenn have seen is that these students come back with a clearer picture of what it is they would like to do. Students come to school with fresh new insights and experiences that help them to contribute to their classroom and overall college experience. They return home with solid ideas about where they want their college career to take them. For instance, they may decide after working on some environmental project in the Amazon that they want to pursue studies in science regarding renewable energy, or in International Relations. They may also find out that working with animals is definitely not for them. It also gives them once in a lifetime travel opportunities. Additionally, these kids make global connections and are able to network with people outside of their own backyard. They learn to speak other languages more fluently and they have a better understanding of the world.

Programs such as Dynamy, Americorps, CityYear and others offer great learning experiences in the United States and abroad. The Center for Interim Studies is an agency that offers their services in helping students find internships, jobs and travel and they have seen an enormous rise in interest. More and more kids are trying to figure out what it is they want to do before they plunk down thousands of dollars in college tuitions. It just makes a lot more sense nowadays to start college when you are more prepared to pursue something specific especially since kids are already coming to college with a good amount of college credit through AP exams and CLEP’s and college courses under their belts.

If you are interested in deferring for a year, contact the college that you are looking to attend and see if they have such a program. If they do not, then you may want to reconsider your college choice.

Also check out places like Willing Workers on Organic Farms,

There are also homeschooling parents with children who have benefited from these programs, so ask around in your homeschool group.

There is a world of opportunity out there for you! So check it out.
Below are some books that might help.

3 comments:

Tamara said...

If I could go back in time, I would definitely have done something like this after I graduated from high school. I think it's a wonderful idea.

The other thing I've been thinking about is the whole idea of 2 year vs 4 year college. What sparked that was a comment my older son made. He informed me the other day that he's only going to college for 2 years, because "that's enough." LOL.

He's not the most academically oriented person, so the remark came as no surprise, but it did get me thinking about the fact that not everyone wants or needs a four year degree.

Lisa Giebitz said...

I wish my folks would have understood that I NEEDED a year off. I didn't get one, and ended up dropping out after 5 semesters of increasingly abysmal performance because I was totally burnt out on school and I had no real idea of what I wanted to do.

That was about two years ago. I've worked and got other aspects of my life together. And I'll go back when I'm good and ready, heh.

John said...

I wish more Americans shared your enthusiasm for gap years. I have been running a non-profit that designs gap years in "non-traditional" places (meaning non-Western European destinations such as India, China, Morocco, Japan) for a number of years and some of our most outstanding students have been home schoolers. The Center for Interim Programs has always refer outstanding students to us and I highly recommend them as a resource with a huge data base and network that can assist anyone in putting together a wonderful gap year.

John Eastman
Executive Director
Global LAB (www.global-lab.org)