Previously conducted studies gave insight to the results and findings within the research question. A series of common themes started to arise and form a pattern, relating to secondary research results. Firstly Lumseden and Stanwick (2012) research illustrated that one main reason for gap year was to work. This allowed the gap taker to gain financial sustainability, a common theme that was found in this study. Curtis (2014,p.110) stated the need to accumulate funds is a main benefit of a ‘gap year’. It created opportunities to save and to cover expenses to financially support themselves while studying. Thus this study concluded that gaining financial sustainability made studying easier and university life more enjoyable. Secondly Snee (2014,p.843) suggested a gap year allows opportunity to engage in individualized, reflexive and identity work. To gain skills and knowledge while travelling by having fun, thus clarifying that the participants that took part in this research found by becoming mature and more independent, created a better attitude about their studies. Which in return received a break from stress that was carried through high school, making the respondents ready to study and choose the right future degree, making it more enjoyable experience. Thirdly Jones (2004,p.53) stated one benefit of a gap year is to develop on their future career choices, by gaining experience in the workforce. Which enables participates to gain skills to continue studying and enhancing their education performance at university (Jones, 2004, p.53). Giving the gap taker the opportunity to try out different occupations and make informed career choices. Thus this research paper found participates where able to choose their degree course with ease, making their university experience more enjoyable because they knew that this course was for them, a sense of self worth.
Out of the 5 participants 4 had previously taken a gap year, while 1 participant choose not to participate in a gap year. These participants where carefully selected for this research paper, to gain a deeper insight on the topic and research question to create a balance and ethical view points. All participants will remain confidential and will be referred to as participate- A and Participate- B for their privacy throughout this report.
Common themes within the focus group discussion:
- Financial growth: 4 out 5 agreed that a gap year was beneficial due to the reason of finical growth. They where able to save enough money in order for them to safely feel ready to study and live without the stress university life can bring. 2 participants agreed that financial reason was their main influence in taking the ‘gap year’; both participants live on campus and needed the money in order to study their chosen degree. They were more relax when it came to studying, as they knew they could afford life outside of university. Resulting in participants being more focused during study while enjoying university life. However participate- C disagreed and said that their gap year didn’t help them to achieve finical gain, this was due to the participate using their saved money by travelling, therefore creating more stress when studying.
- A gap year gave the participants an understanding of their future career: All participants agreed that by taking a gap year they where able to gain a deeper understanding of what they wanted to do with their lives and future careers, a ‘gap year’ was a way not to rush into things. Participates mentioned when finishing high school they felt rushed and expected to know what to study for their future career. This gave the participants lots of stress and anxiety. Participate- B stated he felt a huge pressure to choose a course straight away, he even mention he took a “lucky guess”. When asked ‘why’ he replied by commenting the course chosen was the only thing he really knew about at that time “it seemed alright” (participate B).
- Choosing university courses was easier: Taking a ‘gap year’ allowed the participants to decide that university was for them. They were able to research courses, try new jobs, and gain experience and insights on what they wanted to do as a career. Participate D stated that he wished he took part in a gap year stating “it would have been beneficial for me, giving me time to actually explore what I wanted to do instead of just picking / falling into the degree I am now in”(participate D).
- Recommending gap years to future students: 4 out of 5 recommended on taking a gap year, as it allowed participates time to fully understand who they were by not being rushed into the process of studying straight after school. “I was able to work and gain insight into my career, learnt about myself and just had fun, so by that yes future students should take a gap” (participate E). However participate A stated, they wouldn’t recommend future students to take a gap year. Participate-A stated, “As a gap taker I was able to gain insight about the world around me when travelling”. Though the participant felt as though they didn’t gain any purpose or make any difference within their own life. Participant A felt as though they wasted their time. “When I got back I felt more pressure, to complete my degree, to achieve certain marks to feel that my choice was worth it”.
The Attended proposal research question: To explore whether university students believe a gap year is beneficial towards their studies, courses selection and overall attitude towards university. If so why this may be?
The popularity of taking a gap year among university students continues to gain momentum. A chance for students wanting a well –earned break, a chance to set themselves up finanically for the up coming years and the opportunity to gain some real world experience before hitting the books again. In the study conducted by Lumsden & Stanwick (2012) “person who takes a gap year is defined as an individual who commenced university one or two years after completing year 12”, mentioning those who accepted and deferred their university placement for one or two years. But why is this a trend? Does it really have any benefits for the fellow students? . With the idea that the person would return with;
- Personal growth
- Filament in travel
- Gain experience in the workforce
- Or the idea to participate in community Service or internships.
This notion became so popular in European countries and Australia. But does the gap year really work for its indented purpose? My research proposal lies around the response from university students themselves in whether they believe a gap year is beneficial towards their studies, courses selection and overall attitude to their studies towards university. With the prime purpose to analyze why or why not this may be. With originally conducted studies the author Lumseden and Stanwick(2012) found in their report that in Australia the incidence of taking a gap year has increased from 10% in the period between 1999-2000 to 24 % in 2009-2010 (Lumsden & Stanwick, 2012,p.1 ). Illustrating that their where four main reason for people taking a gap year between these times the first being due to work with the result of 51 %, the second being due to full-time study leading to non-university qualification (10%), thirdly they found others continued in other forms of study (6%) and lastly travel being at only 6% (Lumsden & Stanwick ,2012p.1). The idea of gap years always put forward the notion of opportunity; to what Snee (2014,p.843) suggest engaging in individualized, reflexive and identity work. She draws her studies upon the qualitative analysis of young people’s travel blogs to “highlight the tendency for a gap year” to explore the representations of the people and places encountered during these periods of time through an analysis. The conclusion of her studies found that while doing something worthwhile like taking a gap year for travel in the correct way to gain skills and knowledge, help others, and also to have fun. Snee found that “there is little evidence of critical self-awareness, and not all of these activities are equal and having fun on its own is just not enough”(Snee, 2014, p.858). Similarly in a study conducted by Parker & Thoemmes & Duineveld & Salmela-Aro (2015) based their study around existing gap year research that indicated a number of benefits of a gap year. They undertook two studies the first in Finland and the second in Australia “both with an initial time wave in the last year of high school” (Parker & Thoemmes & Duineveld & Salmela-Aro , 2015, p. 323).They explored the effects of the gap year caused on both psychological and attainment outcomes using an extensive “propensity score matching technique”(2015,p.323). The Finnish study found no difference in growth in goal commitment, effort, expectations of attainment and strain, or in actual university enrollment in those planning to enter university directly versus those who plan to take a gap-year(Parker & Thoemmes & Duineveld & Salmela-Aro , 2015, p. 323). The Australian study found no difference in growth in outlooks for the future and career prospects, and life satisfaction between gap-year youth and direct university entrants. However, the study did find that gap-year students were more likely to drop out of a university degree (Parker & Thoemmes & Duineveld & Salmela-Aro , 2015, p. 325). These findings where the basis of my research question to develop into a worthwhile research topic, proving that it’s worth investigating. By benefiting with my prior knowledge, statistics and comparison between nations.
With these pervious research and findings, led me to question whether students really believed these results when it came to their studies by having taken a gap year themselves. Giving me a purpose to find out whether gap years have made an impact on students within the university of Wollongong, as this research can lead to help future university students towards their outlook on university life. To do this I will be using the methodology of surveys in order to gain responses from a range of people, hoping it will allow me insight into the subject of a gap year. This will be done via the Internet especially the website survey monkey and by handing out survey in person. Focus groups will allow me to gain deeper answers to my intended questions with people who have previously taken gaps years, which will allow me to have a more accurate conclusion. My research will also be including the comparisons of studies already undertaken within universities on the matter of gap years. By analyzing qualitative data with opened ended questions and quantitative data will give me a broader conclusion to my proposed question and the understanding on the “why” of the individual students beliefs towards gap years.
- Lumsden, M, Stanwick, J, & National Centre for Vocational Education, R 2012, ‘Who Takes a Gap Year and Why? Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth. Briefing Paper 28’, National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER)
- Snee, H 2014, ‘Doing something ‘worthwhile’: intersubjectivity and morality in gap year narratives’, Sociological Review, vol. 62, no. 4, pp. 843-861.
- Parker, PD, Thoemmes, F, Duineveld, JJ, & Salmela-Aro, K 2015, ‘I Wish I Had (Not) Taken a Gap-Year? The Psychological and Attainment Outcomes of Different Post-School Pathways’, Developmental Psychology, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 323-333.
- Sarouhan, J, & Sarouhan, J 2013, ‘Your Goals, Your Life, Your Gap Year’, CollegeXpress Magazine, p. 22.
Curiosity! , We have all experienced this in one form or another, whether that be wondering how as humans we managed to get people to the moon or mars, or whether we are generally just asking questions that we particular want to know the answer too. We have all been their staring wide-eyed asking and wondering. Giving us a strong desire to know or learn something new. But what does curiosity have to do with learning?, just like Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. Curiosity helps us to search and understand answers we have longed thought about. Its what helps humans to keep learning and experimenting. Curiosity is a good thing!
For me just over the last couple of weeks I’ve been overly curious and a little obsessed with the idea that I potentially have a doppelgänger right now. Let me explain this further, we have all walked down the street and saw a person we have mistakenly thought was someone else right? , Gave them the wave only to be greeted with an awkward stare, in which we reply, “gosh that looks like (insert name here)”. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me and from these multiple experiences, my general curiosity led me to Google like any young person these days to try to answer the question, does everyone have a doppelganger?
So where is my twin? My Doppelganger? What would it be like to come face to face with her if she does exist? According to live science (2015) and an assistant professor Michael Sheehan of neurobiology and behavior at Cornell University state that, “There is only so much genetic diversity to go around, If you shuffle that deck of cards so many times, at some point, you get the same hand dealt to you twice.” The question then goes back to the notion of evolution; global news (Mortillaro,2015) , and Sheehan said this is due to our faces being evolved and the importance of individuality to our species. Though it seems that some scientist believe that the idea of doppelgängers is just from our personal perception, that our brains take in the persons individual features and slowly recognizes what it chooses to believe as illustrated by Dovey (2015). “Studies published in the October 2006 issue of the journal Science showed that our brains are particularly attuned to respond to the details in faces”(Brown, 2007). This is so interesting to me, the idea that our brains can choose to make us believe that we are seeing the person we know. That they indeed have the same features and by chance happen to look like them but in fact it is just human evolution. Curiouser and curiouser! So if my Doppelganger is reading this , its nice to finally meet you !
If your just as interested and curious like I am here’s a cool case study! , Plus comment if you have experienced or come across your own twin or someone that you know has, can’t wait to hear stories from you!
As always all the best
- Hadhazy 2015, Does everyone have a look-alike?, Live science, viewed 4th March 2016, < http://www.livescience.com/52103-does-everyone-have-a-look-alike.html>
- Mortillaro 2015, your doppelganger exists, according to science. Here’s why, Global News, viewed 4th March 2016, < http://globalnews.ca/news/2300048/your-doppelganger-exists-according-to-science-heres-why/>
- Dovey 2015, Doppelganger Project finds unrelated strangers who look nearly identical, but science still unsure, Medical Daily, viewed 4th March 2016, < http://www.medicaldaily.com/pulse/doppelganger-project-finds-unrelated-strangers-who-look-nearly-identical-science-329404>
- Brown, B 2007, ‘Does Everybody Have a Double’, ABC News, 29th February, viewed 4th March, < http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=2912199&page=1>.