Over the past three months I’ve probably been asked about a hundred times what I’m up to next year, and although I dread this repeated question as much as the next high school grad, I also delight in the fact that I can give a response most people don’t expect.
“I’m going to Spain!” is usually my initial response, followed by an in depth explanation of why on earth I decided to put off college. A gap year, as some call it, has become more popular in recent years although still rare here in the states. Most people go straight to college from high school.
Students are usually told this is the best way and schools offer little guidance to those who may want to take an alternative route, which made my decision making process all the more difficult. I was surprised at the lack of information and resources offered to students like me, because I had a lot of questions that were difficult to get answers to.
Luckily I was able to get advice and guidance from family and friends, and in the mean time I went through the whole college application process just in case. If I did decide to take a gap year, I wanted to ensure that I had a spot reserved for me at a University when I came back from Spain so I wouldn’t have to apply later. This is what ended up happening. I accepted an offer of admission to Northwestern University and requested that my enrollment be deferred for a year and consequently I will be attending in Fall of 2010.
When making my decision a lot of things were uncertain and I knew it would be a risk. (I have never visited the University in Spain I will be attending, I have no idea how European higher education compares to American college, and not to mention all the cultural differences.) However, I decided to go for it and am now confident that I made the right choice.
When I tell people I am going to be attending school in Spain for a year, studying Spanish language and culture, they are usually very supportive. A lot of college graduates that I talked to confess that they feel they weren’t ready for college straight out of high school and wish they had done something like a gap year. Others attest to the fact that living abroad is an incredible, life changing experience and there is no better time to do it. I identify more with the latter, because its not that I don’t feel ready for college I just feel this is an incredible opportunity that is worth taking.