What are the differences between the gap year trend in Europe vs. the United States, and why are students on this side of the pond less likely to take a year off before college?
This recent op-ed piece from the Greenwich Citizen posed some interesting questions about the different mentalities between European and American educational systems, standards, expectations and parental involvement that offers a compelling explanation for why gap years are more prevalent in Europe.
Some key points:
- Parents and institutions put more pressure on students to perform and deliver results through grades and achievements, leading them to push students straight into college.
- European communities value real-world education, exploration and, well, being mature enough to handle college.
The writer advocates for students taking a gap year to open their minds before jumping into post-secondary education, as long as it's not an excuse to party, drink and spend money. A better way, she says, to spend a gap year is to use it as an opportunity for growth, discovery and, yes, a chance to work or volunteer abroad.
What do you think? Do you think these generalizations about Americans vs. Europeans are justified? What about Canadian students? Where do we fall along the spectrum?
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