2020欧洲杯客户端下载Some people are lucky and know exactly what they want to do right after high school. They know where they want to live, they know the career they want to pursue, and they can see this path with extreme clarity. But many of us are still exploring our interests and determining our next steps for the future. This is why we developed our . This semester-long program is an opportunity for high school graduates to challenge themselves, live in the heart of New York City, discover new interests, experience independence and plan their future.
With the launch of our first semester quickly approaching, we sat down with our Student Ambassador Kate Middleton — no, not that Kate Middleton! — to discuss her decision to take a gap year. Though she was unable to attend The School of The New York Times’s program, her experience speaks directly to the mission of our own Gap Year program. From trekking in the Himalayas to strolling on 5th Avenue in New York City, Kate shared her thoughts on designing the perfect gap year experience.
Why did you take a gap year?
2020欧洲杯客户端下载I have been a student my whole life, from kindergarten to senior year, with only summer vacations to explore my passions. So it was really important for me to discover who I am outside of the classroom and school.
What was your thought process around this decision? Why did you think a gap year would help you discover more about yourself?
Deciding to take a gap year wasn’t a quick process by any means. I went back and forth a lot, thinking about what it would involve or what would people say about me deferring college, as gap year is a relatively new thing in the States.
Then I got accepted into Bates College and they sent out an email about the benefits of a gap year, encouraging students to explore this path. That was a deciding moment for me. I sent an email to my mom and my advisor and they were both excited for me. It was really helpful knowing that this was a path my college supported.
Congrats on your acceptance to Bates! Since you’ll be starting college this fall, we’re disappointed you won’t be able to join us for our inaugural Gap Year program.
I know! When I heard The School of The New York Times was launching a gap year program I told my mom, and she said, “I know, but you’re not going to be able to do it.” [Laughs]
Never say never; you could always do a semester “abroad!” But you actually designed your own gap year program last year. What did that look like?
2020欧洲杯客户端下载I graduated a semester early from high school [in Big Sky, Montana] and right away went on to get my wilderness EMT training with a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician, which certifies me to work on ambulances and also work on ski patrol. That’s something that I’d always wanted to do. I worked on ski patrol every day for the rest of the season — from March to April — and got to use my EMT right away, putting what I learned into practice.
2020欧洲杯客户端下载Over the summer I helped run the horse stables. Then in August I went to India for a three-month cultural immersion program. I then spent an additional month and a half with a host family I had met the previous year through the National Security Language Initiative for Youth Scholarship. After India I went home for Christmas, and a week later I went to New York City to take literature and environment classes at New York University. Then I went home to get my Avalanche One Certification, which was just another goal I had going into this year. Now, I’ve just started a “Teacher of English as a Foreign Language” course, which is another way to explore a different passion of mine to study language and teaching.
That is quite the schedule. How did you come up with this structure?
You don’t have to have it completely mapped out beforehand. I was personally looking to be academically challenged in a new way. I was also looking for opportunities for personal development and physical challenges. So I broke those into different components: working a full-time job, getting practical training, taking college classes. Then filled in the blank spots in these exciting ways, like living in New York City or trekking in the Himalayas.
What are your main takeaways from this experience?
2020欧洲杯客户端下载I’ve learned a lot in this time that I don’t think I would have learned if I started college right away. Honestly, I just don’t think I was ready to go to college right after high school. I have been pushed academically before, but my gap year pushed me in every way. It forced me to structure my time and really think about what I want. It was an experience about self-discovery that pushed me on so many levels. It took me from a point of insecurity — in my knowledge and in my independence — and gave me more confidence in who I am, who I want to be, and the steps I can take to get there.
I would encourage every high school graduate to take a gap year because it allows you to push yourself to be independent and to grow in entirely new ways.
So, what’s next?
I’m starting school at Bates College in Maine, Class of 2023. I am planning on studying politics, international relations, as well as global health. My gap year gave me a lot of insight into the real world and gave me direction on what I want to end up doing in the future.