Senior year is a stressful time at first, but becomes exciting once students finally decide upon the path they will embark on after graduating from high school. The application process, college tours and decision time are a different experience for all, but no one can escape the inevitable question: “What college are you going to next year?” From parents and grandparents to teachers and fellow classmates, everyone is curious about what another person will do. There are congratulations floating around and a sense of push towards starting the next four years of your life when you finally get to choose what you will study.
During my senior year, I applied to colleges just like most others, and I waited to find out where I had been accepted. I even debated on which college I would finally commit to so that I could once and for all have a definite answer for all those curious ears to hear, but in the end, I didn’t follow the laid out path and I’m so glad I decided to pursue something else.
Sometimes it can be hard to come to terms with doing something that people don’t understand or cannot fathom doing themselves. Coming from a very competitive school, it was an unsaid fact that the ONLY thing you can do after high school is get into the best college possible and start on your way to a future career. There is nothing wrong with this, of course, and I was very close to doing just that, but then I realized that I have so much more to do before I can come to terms with sitting in a lecture hall and write essays for professors who may or may not care. That is not to say, of course, that I will not eventually be doing that, it will just be when I am ready and choose to do so, not because it is what everyone else is doing.
I had never seriously considered a gap year before my senior year, but I knew I would not be happy going to a college or university right after high school. I had gone to Nicaragua for a three weeks in the summer of my junior year through a program called global glimpse, and as an alumni, we sat in on the next year’s preparatory meetings. A girl from Global Citizen Year had come in to speak about the program and encourage us to apply. I did not actually attend the meeting, but a friend told me about it and I decided to apply and add this bridge year to my list of options—kind of. I had applied to Global Citizen Year without knowing much about the program, or what it could do for me. After I got my interview, I learned a little bit more and began to consider it as a real option once I graduated. As college acceptances came out and everyone began to solidify their answer to the dreaded question, it grew harder to imagine taking a year off to do something so unknown. Oscillating between college and an opportunity to travel the world and learn a new language, I was convinced that I would never be able to choose.
I talked to friends and family, teachers and coaches (this is your shoutout, Oji and Pattison) and I started to realize that I needed to throw away all of the preconceived notions of what should be done and consider what I wanted and what was going to benefit me most. Another week and a half of grueling decision making, and I came to the conclusion that I would simply not be satisfied going to school right after high school. I felt cheated that I would have to spend my youngest adult years in a big room, learning things I didn’t care about and paying thousands while I was at it. I knew now that a year off, complete with a host family, an apprenticeship and opportunities I could not even begin to imagine was the right thing for me.
Even though I applied on a whim, I weighed my options and finally arrived at my choice, which now seems so easy and obvious. I am a fellow of the 2016 Global Citizen Year Cohort and I cannot be more excited to begin my adventure in Brazil.