Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Gap Year

This interesting article documents the seemingly growing trend of taking a so called 'gap year' off between graduating high school and beginning college, as the President's daughter Malia is doing before starting at Harvard.

On a personal note, were I or one of my kids to get into Harvard, I can't imagine not being so excited that one couldn't wait to start in such an elite institution.  Why you would want to delay that for a year of slumming is beyond me.

In my generation, there were always a few kids who did that, and I suppose it's a sort of educational experience to travel and such, if one has the money for it, but why not do that over the summer, as opposed to losing a whole year?

After all, the lost year puts you that much further behind your peers, and that much further behind in starting your career.

However, the reason this article and the idea of the 'gap year' is so interesting to me is the fact that my own oldest daughter has recently graduated from college ( a semester early - in three and a half years - if I may be allowed to brag a bit), and has found a job,  yet many of her friends from school are taking this gap year off.

Putting yourself a year behind between high school and college is one thing, but doing it after graduation from a university is quite another, in my opinion.  That is the time to begin to use that education to get a job, to begin a career, but certainly not to go on an extended and expensive vacation.

You lose a year of earnings, a year of moving along the career path, of earning raises, of making contacts, of learning how the real world works.

Slumming in Greece or Italy seems like a waste of money at this point, a waste of time and a waste of ambition.  It's a disrespect to the education you just got, and to the sacrifices of others that got them for you.

Being an employer myself, I can tell you that if someone came to me for a job fresh off a year of what is actually an extended vacation, I'd want to question them on their drive, their focus and their ability to handle the real stresses of work and career.   Such a decision to play instead of work seems deeply unserious to me, and inexplicable in this competitive work environment.  

The propensity to see a gap year after college as an acceptable form of behavior is a indictment of our culture, which seems a-ok with condoning this act.  Where are these kids parents?  After all, there is no way little junior can afford to live on their own resources at this period in life, let alone spend months in Europe traveling to and fro.

The whine that the rigors of college require an extended sabbatical to recover from holds not a drop of water.  College these days is structured to be as pleasant as possible, with high quality gyms, food courts, counselors, and campuses.  If the special snowflakes think that's stressful, try competing for work in the real world.

I just can't see it.  If my kid told me they were going to Europe for the gap year, I'd say to go, but to expect no support from me at all from that point forward in life, as they clearly can afford more fun and frolic than I can.

Someone needs to sharply tap these little darlings on the forehead with the two - by - four of reality.


  1. I think Ms. Obama is a special case here. If she goes to Harvard in August, she goes with a full Secret Service detail, helicopters and all. If she spends a year off, she goes next year with a couple of agents who will blend into the background (probably undercover as new students), and they can be shipped out after a year or two.

    A "gap year" after college is usually just an excuse to cover a lack of a job. If Number One Son told me he was doing a gaming gap year after his degree, I'd ship him to my dad's farm. OTOH, if he told me "Dad, I want to try to write this game, here's my design documents, including checkpoints and monthly goals" (and they were legitimate), I'd strongly consider funding that gap year. That'd be a resume-enhancing effort, even if it wasn't financially successful. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if Little Miss does a stint with a missionary group or the Peace Corp (welding and building, not "on tour") between her bachelors and her masters.

    A person can make a unique experience into a wild positive ("I worked my way across Europe, learning three languages and a bunch about the European markets"), or sit on their rear end and watch Judge Judy. A hard worker is going to make a backpacking trip across Europe sound like a qualification for a VP job, while someone lazy won't.

  2. Malia Obama is not like the rest of us. She got into Harvard because she's the spawn of Obama. She isn;'t paying for it....neither is her family,WE ARE. Likewise WE are paying for her year of travel. And like that hideous troll spawn of Slick Willie and Cankles she ALREADY has a job paying hundreds of thousands a year waiting for her....GUARANTEED, as payback for parents anti American treason. NEVER compare professional parasites like this to real people.

  3. i agree with most of your points, but suggest a young person taking 2 years during college to serve others offers them a greater advantage and experience. some churches and peace corp offer the chance to help others and often learn another language. the perspective of living in a 3rd world and helping the people gives a valuable perspective.

    this is very different from the 'gap' year you are talking about, but worth considering for any college age person.

    1. Lots of people think it's just dandy, CW. I almost had a bird when my own daughter dropped out of the sciences in university to take a mickey mouse art course at some no-name "college". I pleaded with her not to do it but my in laws came barging into that argument, told me to shut the hell up because I was being mean - and then told my daughter that she was to follow her dreams and the money would follow that. I told her to take a year off, get her head on straight and find out what she wants to do with her life - but don't take the rinkydink art program - and was shouted down again. My kid fell hook line and sinker for the Education scam with the help of meddling in laws.

      Today she's 31 and works one part time job fixing bicycles and the rest of my family is just peachy with it. From where I sit she's a 31 year old kidult that isn't growing up. But then again I am a stupid mean old man like you so what do I know.
      Get down on your knees tonight, CW, and thank God for your wife and kids and praise them for their work ethics. You are not bragging at all, in this day and age when it is so easy for kids to cop out on life before they even get started.

    2. I like being a stupid mean old man. It fits me.

  4. Kidult.....Ha, like the ring of that. A word for what I was thunkin' in my punkin'.
    I wonder if you could graph the rise of a "gap" year with the rise of the infantilization of the next generation.

  5. I have to admit that I took a "Gap" break in college. Went to college right out of high school for a year, then took some time off to "find myself". Spent a couple years in the Southwest then some time doing a little traveling, saw the sights, had some excitement. Came back to the states and saw a little of the South, then went back to college. By then I was ready to settle down and study. Yep, four years of travel and excitement, all expenses paid by my Uncle then my Uncle paid for all of my college. Pretty good deal, huh?