In a school and an area where continuing higher education is the norm, taking a gap year certainly isn’t something that a lot of students plan on doing. Seniors Lisa Schill, Corey Moran and Tali Caspi are a few students who plan to take a gap year next year. However, none of the students have finalized their plans yet, as they’re waiting to hear back from schools about deferral situations and personal financial planning and other reasons.
Lisa is currently finalizing plans to work and volunteer at hospitals in Germany through a specialized program or the Red Cross. At the moment, she plans on spending half the year in Germany and half the year in another foreign country. Lisa has plans to study medical science in college and views her gap year as a chance to try out this field.
“I’m hoping that I can find out if that’s something that I want to do later on because if I don’t enjoy it then it would be awful to find that out after studying it,” Lisa said. “I’m hoping to find out if I like that field or maybe something else that I would rather be doing.”
Lisa started seriously considering a gap year after talking to older friends and family in Germany over the summer.
“They all really encouraged taking a gap year or taking time off before going to college,” Lisa said. “In Europe it’s very popular. Not a lot of people go directly on to college, and a lot of people don’t end up studying at all because there’s a lot of different pathways and options for what to do.”
For Tali, taking a gap year has always been an option.
“Because my parents are Israeli, they served in the military after high school before attending college,” Tali said. “After that, my dad spent a year in Europe with some friends. No one in Israel goes straight to college from high school … For me and my family taking a gap year seems totally normal.”
Although her plans aren’t set in stone yet, Tali is looking at spending her next year volunteering at wildlife rehabilitation and research centers in various countries. She hopes to be able to spend time in Costa Rica, South Africa and Thailand for a few months each. Tali also wants to gain hands-on experience in what she’s currently interested in to figure out what she’s truly interested in pursuing in college.
“All of the programs are a bit different,” Tali said. “In Africa, I’m hoping to volunteer at two different places. The first is a shelter for lions who have been rescued from the canned hunting industry. Most of the jobs there involve taking care of the shelter (i.e. cleaning, monitoring behavior, feeding, etc) and helping teach about the importance of wildlife preservation. The other program is less hands-on with the animals. It is a predator conservation program. It involves mainly cheetah, leopard and hyena tracking and monitoring, reserve management, fence-checks, helping with anti-poaching initiatives, relocation projects, wildlife habituation and assisting with the sable breeding project.”
Tali’s current plans for Costa Rica and Thailand involve doing similar jobs—taking care of the animals at the shelters and working to preserve wildlife in the areas, but with very different animals and habitats.
For senior Corey Moran, his plans for a gap year focus more on his other interests.
“I’m looking for adventure, being in Boy Scouts I’m kind of looking for things on the same trend line,” Corey said. “I’m looking at camping backpacking, and one program which I’m probably going to is a sailing one, Semester at Sea, so you study on a boat and live there for a few months.”
Corey came to the idea of taking a gap year in a more personal way than Tali and Lisa.
“When I was applying to colleges everything was just getting so hectic and I was getting overwhelmed with school as well and it just brought up the question, well maybe I should take a break from school rather than just going straight to college,” Corey said.
Although these students’ plans are centered around their interests, there is still a slight sense of uneasiness.
“I do feel left out sometimes because these 12 years have all been sort of leading up to this,” Lisa said. “It does seem very scary to be doing something different, because … everyone’s [applying to college] and feels very safe, but taking a gap year is kind of more of a risk.”
Despite the large differences from their proposed and unorthodox paths for next year, these seniors are excited for the challenges that their gap years will present them.
“While I’ve learned a lot from all the years I’ve been in school, I think there is just as much that can be learned from taking a gap year,” Tali said. “I’ll meet all kinds of new people from around the world, and that’s pretty awesome.”