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.