Gap year option becoming more popular

Posted at 10:24 AM, May 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 08:22:54-04

The President's daughter has made an increasingly popular choice, Malia Obama is taking a gap year.

The 17-year-old will take a year off before heading to Harvard, and it's a choice many Mid-Michigan students are making as well.

Mason High School Senior Robert Clark is taking a year off before pursuing a career in graphic design. He plans to work a job, that way he'll earn money and get a chance to recharge during his gap.

"Take a break and really figure out like a plan...for college," he says.

At first, his mother was skeptical. But, she says graduating high school with ADHD is a huge accomplishment for Robert, and her son needs the mental break. The gap year will prepare him for big choices ahead.

"That means that when he does go into college and pays to go to school, he has a solid idea of what he wants to do and where he is going to go with it," says Teresa Sonnenberg, Robert's mom.

A popular option in Europe, gap years give many students the chance to work, travel or volunteer before deciding on that ever-important college major.

The American Gap Association says interest in gaps years is growing in the U.S.

Holt High School Guidance Counselor Lindsay Schaeff says gap years can work for some students, but students need a plan in place.

"You also need to make sure you are planning on going back," says Schaeff, the Secondary Student Advisor at Holt, "(that) you know exactly how to get back into the swing of things."

She tells me many students she's talked with have that college price tag in mind.

"Mostly the kids do say that they are looking for a job to try to subsidize some of the college costs," she says.

For Robert, he fully intends to go to college, he'll just be that extra year older when class begins.

Holt's guidance counselor says you can also consider just taking one class for example at a community college near you, to keep in the "schedule of school" during your gap year.

Malia Obama was accepted to Harvard, but chose to defer for one year. You can still get out there and send applications and choose to defer if the college allows it.

The majority of students do not take a gap year, but some are considering it as an option.