As unprecedented numbers of students signal that they will take a gap year—up to 40 percent, according to a survey by SimpsonScarborough—and a whopping 20 percent of Harvard’s first-year students are deferring admission, the question of whether taking a gap year has never been more relevant in the United States.
In a recent brief for Liberty Street Economics, a publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, two of the Fed’s researchers argued that delaying college during the pandemic could be costly.
But by ignoring the fact that many who start college don’t graduate within six years—or at all—their conclusions are faulty. In normal times, many more students would benefit from taking a gap year. With the current turmoil on college campuses, that number may be even higher now.