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The Benefit of Endorsing "The Gap Year"

There are 571 universities/colleges in the United States; however, only a few are household names. Harvard, Yale, Duke, and MIT are among the most notable institutions in the United States and all have something strange in common. These universities, and a few others, have invested in the concept of “The Gap Year.” A “Gap Year” is a stretch of time, before or during undergraduate studies, spent away from college but filled with learning experiences. While just 35 higher-ed institutions in the United States have policies encouraging students to take a gap year when needed, all of these 35 are within the top 70 ranked universities and colleges. This ranking looks at the student-to-faculty ratio, graduation rate, retention rate, acceptance rate, enrollment rate, and institutional aid rate. Of these six parameters, three can be directly impacted by “gap years.” Why is this important to WSU? When a student takes a gap year, or at the very least has the knowledge about taking one, they can start to view this tool as a sort of safety net. If this student is in the middle of their college career and is starting to feel overwhelmed, taking a gap year could help relieve that stress, leading to a happier and more productive student, which leads to better grades and retention. Federally funded schools, like Westfield State University, receive funding based on parameters like these. In short, students taking university-endorsed gap years increases grades, retention and graduation rates, which increases federal funding for schools.

Hannah LeBlanc '26 
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