Go surfing — then go to college

Instead of going to college next year, Deborah Dunham’s son plans to surf the world. Putting college on hold is the right decision for her son, who loves adventure but lacks education and career goals, Dunham writes in Forbes. College is too expensive to be just for “finding” yourself. Her son will go to college when he’s ready.

In the meantime, my husband and I agree that he should catch all the waves he can.

. . . even though Bradley is already working and saving up for his adventure (we will support his travels, but not fund them), he does still have his eyes on the future. In fact, we spend a lot of time talking about ways to marry his passions and talents—like photography and videography of surfing and travel—with a career.

In some countries, it’s not unusual to take a “gap year” between high school and college for work, travel, sports and adventure. But there’s a risk: Once off the college track, Bradley may never get on it. He could find himself as a beach bum — probably a happy one. Or he could show up at college in a few years knowing who he is and what he wants to learn.

Play TSA! It’s fun — and educational

For everyone who traveled over the holidays, here are reviews of the Playmobil Security Checkpoint.

I was a little disappointed when I first bought this item, because the functionality is limited. My 5 year old son pointed out that the passenger’s shoes cannot be removed. Then, we placed a deadly fingernail file underneath the passenger’s scarf, and neither the detector doorway nor the security wand picked it up. My son said “that’s the worst security ever!”. But it turned out to be okay, because when the passenger got on the Playmobil B757 and tried to hijack it, she was mobbed by a couple of other heroic passengers, who only sustained minor injuries in the scuffle, which were treated at the Playmobil Hospital. The best thing about this product is that it teaches kids about the realities of living in a high-surveillence society.

Another reviewer thinks “this toy would be a lot more realistic with about 350 people standing in line for an average of an hour.”

A third adds:

Thank you Playmobil for allowing me to teach my 5-year old the importance of recognizing what a failing bureaucracy in a ever growing fascist state looks like. . . . Just the other day he asked me why we had to forfeit so much of our liberties and personal freedoms and I had to answer “well, it’s because the terrorists have already won.”

It’s a real toy, though it’s been off the market for five years now.

Via Instapundit.

Study: ‘Gap year’ motivates students

Australian students who take a “gap year” after high school are much more motivated in college, according to two studies in the Journal of Educational Psychology.  From Education Week:

University of Sydney researcher Andrew J. Martin . . . found that Australian students were more likely to take a gap year if they had low academic performance and motivation in high school. Yet former “gappers” reported significantly higher motivation in college — in the form of “adaptive behavior” such as planning, task management, and persistence — than did students who did not take a gap year.

While Europeans and Australians often take a gap year, only 7.6 percent of 2004 graduates in the U.S. delayed college entry for a year: 84 percent worked and 29 percent traveled or pursued other interests.

In the U.S., students who take a year off the academic track are less likely to complete a degree, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson, co-authors of the 2005 book The Gap Year Advantage, are working on a new book tentatively titled The Gap Year, American Style, Ed Week reports.

. . . students reported their top-two reasons for taking a gap year were burnout and wanting to “find out more about themselves.” Moreover, nine out of 10 students returned to college within a year, and 60 percent reported the time off had either inspired or confirmed their choice of career or academic major.

Students who’ll be the first in their families to college are urged not to step off the academic track for fear they’ll never get back on. But the “gap year” is catching on with affluent parents who are confident their high-achieving children will earn a degree.

“We found we were counseling everybody to [go to] college, and we were finding a lot of these students were just not ready to go on,” said Linda Connelly, a counselor at New Trier High in suburban Chicago. “The parents wanted them out of the house, and we wanted to give students another option.” New Trier now holds a “gap” fair so students can learn about pre-college programs.

“Taking gap time can really save a lot of the floundering around that students do,” said Holly Bull, the president of the Princeton, N.J.-based Center for Interim Programs, which studies gap-year programs and counsels students on options. “Changing majors, changing schools … it gets very pricey to be confused in college.”

I think many students would benefit from a year to grow up, explore and clarify their goals. Those who go to college after a gap year may work harder and party less. But others will drift away from their college goals.

If the gap year catches on in the U.S., we’re likely to see more serious college students and fewer lemmings — those who go to college only because everybody else is doing it. That sounds like a good outcome, but it will undercut the president’s goal of making the U.S. first in the world in college degrees.