I have always considered myself to be college bound, as I’m sure many of you have.
College is extremely appealing, you get to make new friends, live in dorms, set yourself on a career path, and of course learn at a higher level. Which is why I surprised myself when I made the decision to take a Bridge Year. It was a pretty hard decision, but ultimately I decided that college could wait, and here’s why.
More than once, I have been told that taking a gap year was a bad decision. Many friends and relative seemed to think that if I took a year off there was no way I would be going back to college, and I’d been hearing this type of discourse since I was in elementary school. So, not only was I convinced that college was the only option for me, I was also convinced that if I didn’t follow the straight cut path I wouldn’t be going to college at all.
However, as college got closer I discovered that I was getting really scared. I wasn’t sure how I was financially going to be able to afford college, and I knew for a fact that I needed to do a lot more soul searching before I plotted the course of the rest of my life. In fact, between my junior and senior year, I had changed my career choice at least 10 times, and it was within a broad range of subject. I thought I wanted to be a writer, but then I decided it was pretty impractical, so I then decided that I would major in occupational therapy, but changed my mind and considered being a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, a social worker, an ambassador, and a broad range of other subjects before I finally settled on the idea that I would double major in linguistics and english, which was met with a lot of skepticism, by both my family and myself. Even after making the decision, I still couldn’t give a definite answer when people asked me what I was doing with my life, which is a problem that I know many people struggle with. Then after being accepted to my college of choice and receiving my scholarships, I decided that I wasn’t able to go to college without a very specific career choice in mind and I started doubting whether or not I was even ready to go to college.
I am not the only one who’s decided they weren’t ready to go to college, it should seem rare in the sea of adults telling us that college is the only way to go, but it’s not. In fact, a college and career readiness survey recently told us that 45% of students nationally (that is US localized) feel confident in their ability to succeed in college. I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like an disproportionately low number, with less than half of college age students feeling confident enough to go to college. Perhaps this is why 1 in 3 freshman in college don’t return for their sophomore year. This is due to a variety of reasons, from my fear of making the wrong decisions, all the way down to just not being ready, academically or emotionally. This is why, at least in America, the idea of taking a gap year has become increasingly popular, with newspapers like the New York Times and Huffington Post writing about how it could be more beneficial than going straight to college.
Global Citizen Year fit into this idea of taking a gap year perfectly. And just as my doubt was starting to fester they came knocking at my door. I already knew that traveling the world was on my bucket list, but I was pretty skeptical. It was taking a year off, without any college credits, it was going to cost way too much money, and my family was probably going to think I was crazy (which they did). But then, as I discussed it more with my friend, I discovered that it was financially achievable, and that it was way more than just leaving the country and partying. It was an actual academic experience in which I would be able to immerse myself in other countries, and learn about others as well as myself. Which was just the type of soul searching I had been looking for! It wasn’t a year off, it was a year of learning that just happened to be away from college. So I applied, and by the time I found out I was accepted, I was all in.
I’m not saying it’s not a risk. Once you decide to take a year off you get met with scared family members, and you have to make new decisions about your future. Plus, you’ll have to get used to the idea of being away from family for a really long time, which is terrifying. However, in the end, I, a college bound student extraordinaire decided that college could wait. Taking a gap year will change your life (at least that’s what I’ve been told), and you’ll leave with a new perspective on yourself, college, and hopefully the rest of your life. So take a jump, apply for a bridge year, and let yourself take an adventure. It’s worth the risk! And remember, #collegecanwait.