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A Look Into Gap Years

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As graduation approaches, most seniors already have their life after high school planned out. The majority will go on to an undergraduate program after summer, while some will return to their home countries for military service. However, an option that is rarely considered by seniors are gap years. According to Mr. Callahan, one of the counsellors here at ISB, an extremely low number of ISB seniors choose to take a gap year, and he believes that more students should consider the idea of taking a gap year, rather than limiting themselves to universities only.

The benefits of gap years can be immense if done right. Mr Callahan states, “when you enter university, a gap year makes you more mature and organised, and you will be ready to live on your own independently.” For those who opt for a work experience during their gap year, this will allow them to build connections in their intended industry, and “it also allows them to experience working in the field, and decide if they are a good match for their intended careers,” adds Mr Callahan.

A gap year makes you more mature and organised, and you will be ready to live on your own independently.”

— Mr. Callahan

Lena Dahl, a graduate of the Class of 2017, opted for a gap year after graduation. When asked about the reason behind her decision, she stated, “I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do in college or what I wanted to do in life. I got accepted to my dream college and picked my major but for some reason I just felt like it wasn’t right and I wasn’t ready.”

During her gap year, Lena travelled around her home country Thailand, operated an online clothing shop, and ended up working at ISB assisting the high school in administrative positions. “Working at ISB made me realise that I want to learn psychology and become a counsellor. Whether it’s a school counsellor or any other type of counsellor. The experiences I’ve gained from working here made me sure of that,” she affirmed. The online clothing shop she runs also allowed her to take on new skills such as marketing strategies, the design process, and customer relations from real-life experiences, even though she has never taken a business class.

Just have an open mind and accept whatever comes to you and take it in with a good attitude! ”

— Jelena Dahl

Her experiences from her gap year have enriched her life, and Lena strongly encourages those who are considering a gap year to go for it. She advises, “if you feel like you’re not ready to go to college or you’re unsure of what you want to do, go for it! I know sometimes you can feel pressured by seeing everyone around you being so certain of what their plans for the future are and you’re just over here wondering why you don’t have a set plan like them. It’s actually not as scary as it seems. Just have an open mind and accept whatever comes to you and take it in with a good attitude! You won’t regret it. Whatever you choose to do, whether it’s working, traveling or sleeping everyday, it’ll be worth it. Sometimes you really need to just take this short break in order to be prepared for the future. And the anticipation of going to college is going to get even more exciting! If you’re thinking about it, I really do recommended for you to go for it. It’ll be an experience of a lifetime.”

For those wishing to take a gap year, Mr Callahan provides a crucial piece of advice: apply to university as usual and request for a deferral after receiving your acceptance. This would reduce the amount of red tape one would have to go through during their gap year, and “you won’t have to track down your old math teacher who might be working in Florida for a recommendation while you’re still travelling in Tanzania,” he humorously adds.

A gap year might not be the best fit for everyone, but it is an option that more seniors can consider, especially for those in a similar situation as Lena. What do you think about taking a gap year? Let us know in the comments below.

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