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Gap Year Participants Graduate College Earlier and Have Higher Citizenship Levels

Post Series: In Their Own Words -- Alumni Updates

Press Release from the AGA:

National Survey Shows Gap Year Participants Graduate College Earlier and Have Higher Citizenship Levels
(American Gap Association releases survey results during annual conference in Boston)

Portland, OR – April 26, 2016 – The American Gap Association (AGA), a nonprofit accreditation and standards-setting organization for Gap Year programs, announced today results from the first-ever National Gap Year Alumni Survey. The survey is designed to identify the impact of gap year participation among college-age students.  Among other findings, the survey indicates that students who include a gap year as part of their higher education experience earn college degrees in less than four years and are almost twice as likely to vote in national elections.  The complete survey results will be unveiled during the Gap Year Annual Conference being held May 1-3, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.

“The findings indicate the social and economic value of gap year education,” said Ethan Knight, Founder and Executive Director of the American Gap Association. “As a result, the integration of gap year programming into the higher education experience is an important consideration for families, educators and policy-makers.”

The survey, which was run by the Institute for Survey Research at Temple University, was IRB approved and included approximately 1,000 American gap-year students and alumni ranging in age from 18-60 years old.

Key findings include:
•       The median time to graduation for a 4-year degree was 3.75 years.  The average for students attending US colleges is six years.
•       Respondents are almost twice as likely to vote in national elections
•       89% reported participating in community service in the last month
•       83% of respondents indicated a GPA of 3.0 or higher. 42% reported a GPA of 3.7 (or higher)
•       86% indicated they were satisfied or very satisfied with their jobs

“The survey findings provide conclusive evidence about the benefits gappers see in their lives,” said Karl Haigler, gap year researcher and author of The Gap-Year Advantage (St. Martin’s Press).   “Making the successful transition to and through college, seeing themselves as citizens of the world and more engaged than their peers, the students represented in this study provide a powerful portrait of what’s possible when you take a gap year and learn more about yourself and the world.”

Author Rick Weissbourd Keynotes Conference

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference will be Rick Weissbourd, Harvard psychologist and author of Turning the Tide, a book that advocates for reshaping the college admissions process and promoting greater ethical engagement among aspiring students.

The annual event brings together educators, consultants, gap year program providers and industry leaders to discuss the value of experiential education and how to expand and grow the Gap Year experience for North American students. Attendees include representatives from the Center for Interim Programs, Global Citizen Year, LEAPNOW, the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Outward Bound, Where There Be Dragons, [sic: Expedition Education Institute], and many others.  Sponsors include iNext International Insurance, the Independent Education Counselors Association, StudentUniverse, TeenLife Media, and Warren Wilson College.

In addition to the full survey results, the AGA is releasing its 2016 Gap Year Standards. The 135 standards provide a rigorous evaluation of Gap Year service providers. The 2016 Standards have newly adopted the Fair Trade Learning Standards.

More information about the annual conference can be found at

About the American Gap Association
The American Gap Association is a 501(c)3 nonprofit accreditation and standards-setting organization for Gap Years that is recognized as such by the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.  The organization is dedicated to advancing the field of gap year education by collaboratively pioneering research on student benefits, as well as serving as an information and advocacy hub for university admissions personnel and educational counselors.

Media Contact: Ethan Knight,

The 0riginal data about Gap Year Education that is in this press release can be found at:

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