Gap Year Trend
Peterson's College Search (A Comprehensive Guide to College Education in the U.S.) does a great job of succinctly outlining most popular alternatives for transitioning to college including a gap year. Read the article, Should You Take a Gap Year Before College and Explore Alternatives?
"Many students (and their parents) worry about getting off the college-bound train, but we have found that most students interested in higher education will go to college, and that a gap year of some kind often increases their motivation for college and their odds of success once they enroll."
Delaying College to Fill in the Gaps , by Sue Shellenbarger, was published in the Wall Street Journal in late December 2010, and references new statistics and educational studies that show the gap year option continues to be favored by U.S. colleges and universities.
An exciting new documentary discussing the impact of 'Gap Year' volunteers in Ghana has been released online by independent production company Ya Basta Films. Using a range of contributions from academics, local workers and volunteers, the impact of this kind of volunteering is assessed in order to try and answer the questions, what is the impact? and who really benefits?
If you have ever volunteered in a developing country, or are considering doing so for a gap year, I recommend watching this film in its entirety.
I recently reviewed an article on the internet entitled 'A Student's Guide to College' http://www.gonorth.org/start/highschl.htm.
Like many college guides the article points out the pitfalls that prevent so many from succeeding, but don't get to the root cause, nor do they offer real solutions. For example, One tip offered in the article is "Advance Preparation for Independent Management". Here's what it says:
"I can tell you that the best students come already prepared to manage themselves like adults. They have already established good study habits, keep to a bedtime, participate in a sport, go to class and make efforts to earn friends most like them, with similar interests and good habits as well."
Take Me to Zen Yen
By Aliza Goldberg
The young Vietnamese boy sat patiently at the Yen River’s edge, his hands resting lightly on the bamboo oars tied to the thin, red, metal rowboat. He looked up at us, wrinkles forming on his forehead as he raised his eyebrows, and waited until we had boisterously situated ourselves in his boat. Without a word, he began to back up his boat into the water and steer us out into the wide expanse of vegetation. No introduction, no complaints. Strong black coffee, the smell of burning incense, the startling clash of a metal gong, the gleam of gilded wood and lacquer statues, seven hundred and sixty two slick stone steps, the squeaks of bats, the dank wonder of an underground niche, and the tickling sensation of sweat trickling down our spines had energized us and we hardly noticed the thin boy, tan like the twigs floating aimlessly in the ripples.
He wore a maroon fake Dolce & Gabbana shirt with a white flap on the left shoulder and another white flap on the right breast. His uneven brown hair was carefully combed over his dark brown eyes, which gazed at us four American teenagers uneasily and with a hint of envy. Meanwhile, we joked around with our school friends in the other rowboats, taking pictures and splashing water. And then suddenly, all the boats were gone. That’s when we finally saw the boy struggling to fight the current.
The five of us were totally alone--no sounds but that of the oars dipping into the glittering water, nothing to see but mountains soft with tufts of green trees, tall grasses and pink lotus flowers, and the reflection of the grey and white clouds in the water. The river was ours. The silence was a peaceful break from the smoggy chaos of honking motorcycles that defined our new home, Hanoi.
His name was Trung. This was his first time rowing tourists from the Perfume Pagoda. He was sorry he was taking so long.
I was sorry he was our age, yet had dropped out of school to take us from one unfamiliar shoreline to another. I was sorry his arm muscles did not have enough strength to continue rhythmically circling the oars. I was sorry I could not help him.
He would stretch a tired smile whenever we did something silly to amuse him, like singing Santigold or daintily dangling slices of bread in front of his face for him to bite. Otherwise he wore a light-lipped grim line of a mouth, eyes squinting in pain.
Middle aged women in conical hats streamlined past our rowboat, laughing and teasing our faithful Charon.
He was sorry he was taking so long. I was sorry I could not help him.
As we inched along, I felt something puff up and expand under the bottom of my right ribcage. A sense of relief and satisfaction perhaps, or elation. After three weeks in Vietnam my regrets and hesitations had splintered and were being carried away by the river’s current. It occurred to me that we might never be reunited with the other Americans waiting patiently for us at the shore, that if the clouds decided to burst and send down rain our rowboat would fill up within minutes. But these thoughts did not worry me. I knew I would be all right. And I knew Trung would not be.
"I have spent a year studying in Viterbo, Italy and a semester studying in Hanoi, Vietnam. In the fall of 2010 I will attend Barnard College of Columbia University and try to study as many languages as I am allowed without becoming a language major." Read more travel writing from Aliza at www.alizid.blogspot.com and see see her video below:
New gap year novel aimed at young adults
The article, Mind The Gap by Kayte Korwitts, appeared in Chicago's North Shore Magazine yesterday. It highlights the current 'gap year' trend amongst some high school graduates, and briefly reviews Cliare Zulkey's young adult novel An Off Year, an account of an acutely self-conscious and hyper-intelligent 18-year-old who arrives at a small liberal-arts college only to turn around and go home.
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Applications for gap year options on the rise
Planet Gap Year is a new web site designed to assist US students, their parents and advisers plan a productive 'gap year' before college, and provides information -insightful and timely news articles and commentary about the student gap year movement in America via a Blog and US Gap Year News feed. Additionally, Planet Gap Year provides a FREE database of US and internationally based companies and organizations offering volunteer, community service, internships, expeditionary travel, language study and teaching, study abroad, cultural immersions, paid work and more!