When I heard that Malia Obama was planning to take a gap year before she went to college, I thought, More Millennials should be like her.
I've taught college students for a long time now. Unfortunately, some of them are not ready for college. To high school graduates, here are some signs that you're not ready for college yet:
1. You think that punctuality and attendance should be optional.
2. You spend more time staring at your cell phone than at your textbooks.
3. You keep your headphones on during class and then, when your teacher tells you to take them out, you say, "Why? Is the volume bothering anyone?"
4. You let your parents complain to your teacher about your grades or about the fact that you were penalized for breaking one (or more) of your teacher's rules.
5. You snore in class on a regular basis.
6. You say, "Hemingway/Shakespeare/Austen is so boring," after spending two hours "liking" posts and Tweets that say stuff like "Party like it's Friday" or "I love [insert pop icon's name here]!".
7. You think you're entitled to an A just because you showed up to class, which is the bare minimum.
8. You think it's okay to be absent for several weeks and then get upset when your teacher lowers your grade.
9. You spend the whole class time talking to your friends and then complain that you don't understand the material.
10. You say, "My printer/computer/roommate ate my homework," multiple times.
When students go to college before they're ready, they're more likely to feel stressed, overwhelmed, and unhappy. They struggle in their classes, and it's difficult for them to understand that their professors can't (and won't) help them with every single thing. Several of them get low grades, get suspended, or drop out of school altogether.
That's why I think some (though not all) students should take a gap year first. I don't think they should travel through Europe and expect their parents to pay for everything. They shouldn't sleep till noon all day and party all night.
Instead, they should get jobs, which may help them realize how important it is to work hard and continue their education. They should do volunteer work, so that they'll understand how important it is to help people. They should do research on the kinds of careers that they want to pursue, so that they won't graduate without any idea of what to do with their degree. They should take a couple classes at community colleges, in order to see what college life (and professors' expectations) is like before they commit to it full-time.
I think if they did that, they would be more likely to do well in college. Then professors like me would be less likely to end every workday by putting our hands to our faces and screaming like Macaulay Culkin did in Home Alone.
What about you? Did you take a gap year before you went to college? If you didn't, what would you have done if you had taken a gap year?
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