Colorado College has been instrumental in the launching of the new Gap Year Research Consortium, a first-of-its-kind consortium bringing together admissions deans and researchers from top colleges and universities to study the outcomes of taking an intentional gap year before college.
“As long-time supporters of the gap year movement, we believe that creating a clearinghouse for the research that is going on at colleges and universities around the country is the logical next step in better understanding the positive outcomes that can come from taking a gap year,” says Colorado College Vice President of Enrollment Mark Hatch, who has been influential in the creation of the consortium.
Colorado College Research Professor and Professor of Economics Kevin Rask will serve as the principal investigator for the consortium, and Bob Clagett, former dean of admissions at Middlebury College and currently at Colorado Academy, will assume the role of coordinator.
Together they will work with partner institutions that have helped shape and inform the creation of the Gap Year Research Consortium, including Colby College, Duke University, Florida State University, Harvard University, MIT, Portland State University, Stanford University, Tufts University, and Yale University, among others.
Each of these institutions are proponents of meaningful gap years, and all report that an increasing number of students are inquiring about gap year policies and opportunities. Admissions staff at these schools are eager to share best practices with their peers, both in terms of tracking gap year outcomes as well as more proactively communicating gap year benefits and opportunities to incoming students.
“Colorado College is proud that nearly 10 percent of each incoming class opts to pursue a meaningful gap year before arriving on campus,” says Hatch. “This percentage is well above the national average, which is no accident. CC’s Admissions Office has taken steps to encourage prospective students to consider whether they might benefit from a gap year that takes them out of their comfort zone and gives them real-world experience before starting college.”
Harvard University Dean of Admissions Bill Fitzsimmons says, “The new Gap Year Research Consortium at Colorado College will go a long way toward encouraging, conducting, and disseminating research on the benefits of taking a gap year. The work of the consortium will inspire more students to consider taking time off before college to pursue the many exciting possibilities that a gap year can provide — ultimately greatly enriching their college experiences.”
For the past 18 months, this has been an informal group, founded and led by Clagett and Linda Frey, vice president of Strategic Partnerships at Global Citizen Year. In honor of their pioneering work in this field, the two recently received the Gap Year Association’s Karl Haigler Excellence in Gap Year Research Award.
Writes Clagett, coordinator of the consortium, “We know from our research at Middlebury and UNC-Chapel Hill that gap year students show a statistically significant pattern of academic over-performance, and now many other colleges and universities are studying other positive benefits of taking time off between high school and college.”
Adds Frey, “It’s incredibly inspiring to see influential admissions deans from top schools coming together for the first time to study gap year outcomes. This research has real potential to fundamentally shift how we as a society think about this formative transition year between high school and college.”