The “irresponsible” choice to take a gap year

Being irresponsible has never been my thing. I have always made calculated and fully researched decisions, aiming to make the right choice. That is, until I found Global Citizen Year.

I discovered GCY only a few days before the deadline to commit to college. At this point, I had completely decided to commit to a private liberal arts college. I was mentally preparing to take out tens of thousands of dollars in loans and plunge into four more years of classroom education, with no real direction as to what I wanted to study. When I found out about Global Citizen Year, it turned everything I thought I knew upside down. GCY was everything I was looking for, but hadn’t realized until stumbling upon it. Suddenly, I could picture my life abroad: living with a host family, working at an apprenticeship, being immersed in a foreign culture and language, meeting people from all over the U.S. and world. Applying to become a fellow felt so contrary to the path I was on, irresponsible to my goals, even. But as I submitted my application, something felt so right, I knew that this program was where I am meant to be.

College had always been my end goal. Being one of the first in my family with college as a possibility after high school, I was encouraged to seize the opportunity quickly, and I considered a gap year to only delay the end goal of higher education. Looking back, I am surprised that everyone around me- school counselors, family, teachers- supported this route.

Why is going straight to college considered the best, even only option for so many students? This mindset is dated, and needs challenging. First Generation college students should be encouraged to take a gap year. My hope as I take a year off from the traditional classroom is to have a chance to grow in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. This experience is meant to set students up to succeed when they continue on to higher education. As a First Gen student, college has only felt like an option to me if pursued right after high school. GCY strives to change that mindset by making a gap year attainable for all students.

I am forever grateful to have this opportunity to take a year off from traditional education. As I embark on this year of irresponsibility, I encourage everyone to try the “irresponsible” path, you never know where it will take you.