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In the traditional sort of gap year, students immerse themselves in a developing community to volunteer with a nonprofit organization by teaching, working with local youth, or assuming some other community role.Gap years have been rising in popularity in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and elsewhere.
But before students jump online and accept an offer, I have one piece of advice for them: They might be better off not going to college next year.
Instead, they should think about taking a gap year, to defer college for a year to live and volunteer in a developing country.
What’s important here is the productive dissonance that these long-term, immersive gap year experiences provide.
It's unlikely that a young person staying in America -- or even traveling overseas for a short time -- would have assumptions about herself and the world around her challenged with the same intensity, frequency, and breadth as in a gap year in a developing community.
Despite this insight, we often prioritize comfort and self-segregate into groups of sameness.
We tend to surround ourselves with people who think, talk, and look similar to us.Classes help you develop an understanding of social issues that plague society, and give you a chance to examine your values, beliefs and behaviors, develop sensitivity for others and learn how to resolve conflicts without violence.Classes and extra-curricular activities also provide you with opportunities to learn how to interact with diverse populations, practice tolerance and accept leadership roles.The challenges of our time demand an educational system that can help young people to become citizens of the world.We need our students to be smart, critical and innovative thinkers but also people of character who use their talents to help others.Gap years help young adults understand themselves, their relationships, and the world around them, which deepens capacities and perspectives crucial for effective citizenship.They help students become better thinkers and scholars, filled with passion, purpose, and perspective. One principal lesson is clear: We often develop most when our understandings of ourselves and the world around us are challenged -- when we engage with people and ideas that are different.According to the National Center for Education Statistics, “In 2010, the median of earnings for young adults with a bachelor's degree was ,000, while the median was ,000 for those without a high school diploma or its equivalent, ,900 for those with a high school diploma or its equivalent, and ,000 for those with an associate's degree." As a high school graduate, your promotion opportunities are greater than those who drop out of high school because you have knowledge and skills to offer employers.Even if you do not have experience, many employers are more likely to offer you employment and provide training if you have a high school diploma because you've demonstrated a certain level of perseverance and competence.A high school diploma indicates that you have satisfactorily completed your general education coursework.It is much harder to get into college if you don't have a high school diploma, since colleges review your high school transcript to verify that you have met all of your general education requirements.