I have always known I wanted more than the typical American college experience. I crave the excitement of not having a predestined future as well as the ambiguity of taking a gap year and/or attending a university overseas. Usually, when I tell people this, they reply dryly with “Wow, that’s cool, but not for me.” Well, why not?
Most of the time I find people are too set on an intended path to consider straying from the norm. Throughout my years at Hockaday, particularly during the college application process, I have observed that most students pursue calculated and planned futures. Though there is nothing wrong with this approach, it can be disheartening to someone like me to see the majority of my classmates approach college with a completely different mindset. Hockaday tends to be a very fast- paced environment. Students work hastily through course requirements, focus intently on deadlines and check off application boxes as they would a list of chores. But this is a dichotomy I have never quite fallen into.
My life and goals have a much different pace. I spend much of my time wandering, exploring, and curiously searching for new ideas. Because of this, I believe I am uniquely positioned to benefit from a gap year. I am not interested in achieving the next milestone as soon as possible so that I can become closer to some final life goal or achievement. Rather I am more comfortable figuring my life out as I go and having a good time in the process. I do not view my college applications as another task to be completed but a ticket out of the mundane toward a lifetime of adventures. This is what I have to look forward to in a gap year and an education abroad.
If I were to take a gap year, I would like to spend several months working overseas, ideally in Florence, learning a new language and culture in the process. I would then use that money to travel wherever I feel. Perhaps I would fulfill my lifelong dream of studying Zen Buddhism in the Himalayas or visiting rural Sri Lanka. I would also love to visit Eastern Europe and live among strangers until I got too cold.
Another dream of mine is to drive up the West Coast of the United States from Terlingua, Texas, to Anchorage, Alaska, pausing wherever I see fit. I would then like to attend university somewhere in the UK, a place that has always inspired my creativity and writer brain.
I want to study English, history, art, philosophy, law and never stop learning. I want to be educated by experience and be a citizen of the world. Today we are in an era where we can essentially customize our college experience. A gap year is just an extension of higher education. Take advantage of this. Find joy in the adventurous, exciting nature of college applications! You’ll end up where you need to go.