Lonely Planet describes the Snap Year as the Gap Year's "shorter, punchier, younger sister" and, according to LP, it's here to stay. As the name implies, it's essentially a short Gap Year (several weeks to several months long). It typically packs in more career-building elements (and less 'aimless wandering,' from what I understand) and is commonly sandwiched between university semesters or during summer holidays.
According to a 2011 article in The Guardian, the numbers definitely show that traditional Gap Years may be on the decline; the number of people taking extended time off (4 months or more) fell 69% from 2005 to 2011. No surprise - rising unemployment and tuition fees across the world mean that more and more people simply don't have the luxuries of time and money to spend on a 12-month gap.
But some argue that the longer Gap Year looks better on your CV (or résumé to you North Americans) - demonstrating commitment to prospective employers, especially if you use your Gap Year to pursue a specific volunteer or work project. Conversely, others argue you can do all that in a shorter time period, and not break the bank.
Of course, the answers to these questions are highly subjective and personal - and there are no right answers (but I'd love to know your opinion).
Either way, I won't be disappointed if the Snap Year is here to stay. Anything that encourages people to get out and explore the world around them (whether that's the other side of the world, or the world right outside their front door) is good in my books.
p.s. march 1st - this friday! - is the deadline to enter Havana Club's contest to win a round-the-world Gap Year.