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Research Finds That Gap Year Is Beneficial For Long-Term

Research Finds That Gap Year Is Beneficial For Long-Term

What Is A Gap Year?

In college terms, a gap year is a length of time (usually a year) away from schooling after high school to find purpose, work, or even volunteer, instead of pursuing college immediately. Many students have even traveled for their gap year, allowing them to experience more of the world before being confined to the endless pages of school textbooks. More and more research is conducted relating to the idea behind the gap year to see how it is helping soon to be college bound students develop.

Based on the research found from the American Gap Association, a non-profit organization in charge of handling the data for gap year students, students who had pursued the gap year in 2012 and 2013 were more likely to graduate with a higher grade point average than traditional students. This research was done in both the United States and the United Kingdom. It also suggested that even students who were not very academic in high school would go on to be some of these students who held higher grade point averages upon completion of college. From 2012-2013, gap year students rose 27%.

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Now Gap Year Students Are Being Noticed

A handful of universities have taken notice to the recent increasing amount of students participating in gap years and offering a portion of their financial aid to help still be admitted into college after a year with schooling. Usually, a student would take the proper tests and be a part of the proper process to go accept a college’s offer as they leave high school, but a few colleges are more than willing to work with students who found their purpose through the beneficial gap year.

The University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is one of the colleges participating in helping gap year students. The school has developed the Global Gap Year Fellowship to grant $7,500 dollars for a student to develop their own beneficial way to spend their gap year instead of school.

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How Gap Years Help Students

Besides helping to relieve the burnout feeling that many students have upon exiting high school, a gap year also offers more than that for students. It offers an individual a year to hone in on what really interests them, instead of being shackled and restrained by lesson plans and lectures.

The American Gap Association validates that many students who take gap years do so to fix the issue of academic burnout and have a desire for increased self-awareness. Harvard University — one of the top universities in the nation — fully supports the idea of a gap year, concluding that there is a lot of pressure placed on students in the middle/high school fast track. Harvard’s academic admission officers are “concerned that the pressures on today’s students seem far more intense than those placed on previous generations.” Thus they make sure to note that Harvard has been advising for students to potentially have a gap year for 40 years, and that about 80 out of 110 students will defer college for another year. Students at Harvard in 2000 that took advantage of the gap year would advise every student to do it.

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Studies in both Finland and Australia have noted that students don’t perform any worse for taking a year off or going immediately to college. Not that they were outperforming each other, but it’s humble research like this that shows that students will do just fine in taking a year to find themselves before college.

Conclusion

It should not be taken lightly that universities around the nation are beginning to look at ways to make gap years affordable for their prospective students. From talking with students who have had the opportunity, they absolutely agree it was necessary to finding their own balance in school and achieving what they wanted. Even Malia Obama is deciding to take a year off of school before attending Harvard in 2017.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

8 Ways to Train Your Brain to Learn Faster and Remember More

You go to the gym to train your muscles. You run outside or go for hikes to train your endurance. Or, maybe you do neither of those, but still wish you exercised more.

Well, here is how to train one of the most important parts of your body: your brain.

When you train your brain, you will:

  • Avoid embarrassing situations. You remember his face, but what was his name?
  • Be a faster learner in all sorts of different skills. No problem for you to pick up a new language or new management skill.
  • Avoid diseases that hit as you get older. Alzheimer’s will not be affecting you.

So how to train your brain and improve your cognitive skills?

1. Work your memory

Twyla Tharp, a NYC-based renowned choreographer has come up with the following memory workout:

When she watches one of her performances, she tries to remember the first twelve to fourteen corrections she wants to discuss with her cast without writing them down.

If you think this is anything less than a feat, then think again. In her book The Creative Habit she says that most people cannot remember more than three.

The practice of both remembering events or things and then discussing them with others has actually been supported by brain fitness studies.

Memory activities that engage all levels of brain operation—receiving, remembering and thinking—help to improve the function of the brain.

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Now, you may not have dancers to correct, but you may be required to give feedback on a presentation, or your friends may ask you what interesting things you saw at the museum. These are great opportunities to practically train your brain by flexing your memory muscles.

What is the simplest way to help yourself remember what you see? Repetition.

For example, say you just met someone new:

“Hi, my name is George”

Don’t just respond with, “Nice to meet you”. Instead, say, “Nice to meet you George.”

Got it? Good.

2. Do something different repeatedly

By actually doing something new over and over again, your brain wires new pathways that help you do this new thing better and faster.

Think back to when you were three years old. You surely were strong enough to hold a knife and a fork just fine. Yet, when you were eating all by yourself, you were creating a mess.

It was not a matter of strength, you see. It was a matter of cultivating more and better neural pathways that would help you eat by yourself just like an adult does.

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And guess what? With enough repetition you made that happen!

But how does this apply to your life right now?

Say you are a procrastinator. The more you don’t procrastinate, the more you teach your brain not to wait for the last minute to make things happen.

Now, you might be thinking “Duh, if only not procrastinating could be that easy!”

Well, it can be. By doing something really small, that you wouldn’t normally do, but is in the direction of getting that task done, you will start creating those new precious neural pathways.

So if you have been postponing organizing your desk, just take one paper and put in its right place. Or, you can go even smaller. Look at one piece of paper and decide where to put it: Trash? Right cabinet? Another room? Give it to someone?

You don’t actually need to clean up that paper; you only need to decide what you need to do with it.

That’s how small you can start. And yet, those neural pathways are still being built. Gradually, you will transform yourself from a procrastinator to an in-the-moment action taker.

3. Learn something new

It might sound obvious, but the more you use your brain, the better its going to perform for you.

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For example, learning a new instrument improves your skill of translating something you see (sheet music) to something you actually do (playing the instrument).

Learning a new language exposes your brain to a different way of thinking, a different way of expressing yourself.

You can even literally take it a step further, and learn how to dance. Studies indicate that learning to dance helps seniors avoid Alzheimer’s. Not bad, huh?

4. Follow a brain training program

The Internet world can help you improve your brain function while lazily sitting on your couch. A clinically proven program like BrainHQ can help you improve your memory, or think faster, by just following their brain training exercises.

5. Work your body

You knew this one was coming didn’t you? Yes indeed, exercise does not just work your body; it also improves the fitness of your brain.

Even briefly exercising for 20 minutes facilitates information processing and memory functions. But it’s not just that–exercise actually helps your brain create those new neural connections faster. You will learn faster, your alertness level will increase, and you get all that by moving your body.

Now, if you are not already a regular exerciser, and already feel guilty that you are not helping your brain by exercising more, try a brain training exercise program like Exercise Bliss.

Remember, just like we discussed in #2, by training your brain to do something new repeatedly, you are actually changing yourself permanently.

6. Spend time with your loved ones

If you want optimal cognitive abilities, then you’ve got to have meaningful relationships in your life.  Talking with others and engaging with your loved ones helps you think more clearly, and it can also lift your mood.

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If you are an extrovert, this holds even more weight for you. At a class at Stanford University, I learned that extroverts actually use talking to other people as a way to understand and process their own thoughts.

I remember that the teacher told us that after a personality test said she was an extrovert, she was surprised. She had always thought of herself as an introvert. But then, she realized how much talking to others helped her frame her own thoughts, so she accepted her new-found status as an extrovert.

7. Avoid crossword puzzles

Many of us, when we think of brain fitness, think of crossword puzzles. And it’s true–crossword puzzles do improve our fluency, yet studies show they are not enough by themselves.

Are they fun? Yes. Do they sharpen your brain? Not really.

Of course, if you are doing this for fun, then by all means go ahead. If you are doing it for brain fitness, then you might want to choose another activity

8. Eat right – and make sure dark chocolate is included

Foods like fish, fruits, and vegetables help your brain perform optimally. Yet, you might not know that dark chocolate gives your brain a good boost as well.

When you eat chocolate, your brain produces dopamine. And dopamine helps you learn faster and remember better. Not to mention, chocolate contains flavonols, antioxidants, which also improve your brain functions.

So next time you have something difficult to do, make sure you grab a bite or two of dark chocolate!

The bottom line

Now that you know how to train your brain, it’s actually time to start doing.

Don’t just consume this content and then go on with your life as if nothing has changed. Put this knowledge into action and become smarter than ever!

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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