By Elizabeth Madden
Volume 69, Issue IV
Almost all of the seniors at Briarcliff high school pursue a secondary education immediately after graduation. The possibility of a “gap year” does not appeal to many, and almost seems to be viewed with a negative connota-tion; Ms. Ryan, school guidance counselor, explained that “in my seven years [of being a guidance counselor], I think I’ve had two students take a gap year. The other counselors have had about one or two in that same time frame.”
This staggeringly low number may be due to a multitude of reasons, but it is believed that it is mainly a product of the standards Briarcliff families hold for their kids. Ryan expressed her opinion that “at a place like Briarcliff, the expectation from the community is that a kid is going to go straight to college.” This may reflect the socio-economic status of families in the district, which can result in the idea that a gap-year is either delaying a student’s educational career or an “easy alternative.”
However, there are Briarcliff alumni who have benefited tremendously from taking a gap- year. An extraordinary example is Karthic Rao, who, when required by his school of choice (Harvard University) to take a gap year, founded his own start- up company and became very financially successful. Although this is a very exceptional scenario, it shows that taking a gap-year in no way hinders your academic future.
Ms. Ryan believes that there are many benefits to taking a gap year, remarking that one
of the main reasons for “Taking a gap year for a lot of kids is maturity,” as it gives students an entire year to focus on themselves, who they are, and what they want for their future. It also “Gives kids the opportunity to explore other interests before committing and continuing with their educational career,” which is essential for any student to make the most out of their college experience.