Around January of my senior year of high school, my mother told me she thought I should consider taking a gap year.
The term “gap year” always made images of traveling to far-off places for months at a time swirl around in my brain. But I had never really entertained the idea. Travel was expensive, and gap years didn’t really sound that beneficial. Also, I liked the idea of going to college. Why would I want to delay that?
But then I began to reflect on the past few years of school. All I could picture in my mind were years of grinding nonstop on schoolwork and résumé-boosting extracurriculars. For the past few years, I would wake up at six a.m., make my breakfast, head to school with my mom while it was still dark out, and do schoolwork or extracurriculars all day and late into the night. I had never taken a break. As a matter of fact, I had never had fun. I had spent my entire high school experience on an academic validation rat race that was only going to continue if I went to college immediately after high school. All I had was a perfect transcript. I didn’t have life experience, and I didn’t feel fulfilled.
I knew what this would mean if I went to college right away. Particularly since I came from an all-girls school where I had virtually no interaction with men for three years, I knew that I would start college and become a trainwreck. I would be drinking and partying nonstop to blow off all of the steam that had been built up in high school, surely sacrificing my academic goals in the process. To put it simply, I was not ready for college. I needed a break–a real, non-academic break, one that focused on adventure, fun, and personal growth.
When my mom told me her opinion, I started doing some research. What sorts of programs were in place for a student looking to do something structured during their gap year? It turns out, there are a lot. Like, hundreds. And lucky for me–a gap year fair was heading to my hometown in a few weeks. A gap year fair is like a college fair for gap year programs; it is an opportunity to talk to program reps, explore different programs, and find the best fit for you.
I talked to a bunch of different programs at my hometown’s gap year fair, and I stumbled upon Pacific Discovery. As soon as I talked to the program rep, I knew that this was the program for me. I liked that PD’s programs were grounded in values such as ethical humanitarianism, leadership, and sustainability, but also were jam-packed with fun activities. No other program offered as much adventure as Pacific Discovery. My priority for my gap year was to have an absolute blast, and PD’s itineraries delivered.
Taking a gap year was the best decision I have ever made. After starting college last year, I realized how necessary it was and how much I truly grew from it. It was exactly the break I needed before college.
Check out our range of Gap Semester programs here.
by Abigail Hasselbrink
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