Gap year good
Students who have a gap year achieve more highly at university than students who enter university straight after school and mature age students, a University of Sydney study has found.
for future study
The study, by researchers at the Faculty of Education and Social Work, also found that the effects of school achievement on university achievement diminished over the first three semesters at university.
A much stronger influence on university achievement in later semesters was performing well at university in earlier semesters, the study found.
Involving 904 Australian undergraduate students, the study tracked achievement over their first four semesters at university. Students were from the disciplines of arts, social sciences, and science.
Lead author, Andrew Martin said that while the research showed that school achievement will get students into university, its impact on university achievement was relatively limited.
“Instead, factors beyond school achievement come into play. For example, taking a gap year seems to contribute to university achievement further into one’s course. Doing well in the first semester of study is also great boost to one’s achievement in subsequent semesters,” Professor Martin said.
Previous published research by Professor Martin found a positive effect of a gap year on university students’ motivation. This research came to more or less the same conclusions.
“Once school is over, post-school education is a new chapter, a fresh start, a blank slate—it’s yours to make of it what you will,” Professor Martin said.
“For students with great school results, our findings underscore the importance of not resting on one’s oars. For those who might have done better at school, the year following school is a chance to shape something new.”
He said this might mean a constructive year off in the form of a gap year; or it might mean having an honest look at what academic skills the student needed to enhance in order to make university a more positive experience.
Rachel Wilson, Paul Ginns and Gregory Liem, all from the University’s Faculty of Education and Social Work, also worked on the study.
Edition 380, 24 September 2013