The New York Times reported in May that Malia Obama would attend Harvard University, but only after spending a year away seeking experiences outside of the classroom. The gap-year approach is one of three ways identified in a new study as the most popular nontraditional pathways students take instead of going straight to college.
The other options are collecting credentials and badges from online resources and skills program to skip college altogether.
“College costs keep growing and student debt is over one trillion dollars,” Richard Wang, CEO of the coding bootcamp Coding Dojo, said in an article for eCampus News. “These alternative education options can help keep student debt under control while providing individuals with real-world experiences and skills employers are looking for in job candidates.”
The report noted that colleges and universities support nontraditional alternatives as a way to help students perform better once they do arrive on campus. Admissions departments can also focus on those interests developed through a year of personalized learning to attract the best students.
“As a result of these educational developments, I refrain from spending all of my counseling hours talking about grades, classes, and test scores,” said Alex Ellison, founder of the educational consulting firm Dunce Labs. “Instead, I dedicate time with the students with whom I work to explain the values of starting a blog, creating an independent project they can be proud of, and building a unique portfolio of all the cool stuff they have done over the years.”