Last year, Marlborough alumna Alexa ’13 was waitlisted at her first-choice college, Harvard University. She was later accepted into Harvard’s class of 2018 rather than 2017 because the school did not have enough room for all the students it wanted to accept. Alexa had already considered the prospect of a gap year and was pleased with the turn of events; she spent this year working and traveling, trekking across the Andes and working at a renewable resource company in Los Angeles. She will begin her time at Harvard in the fall.
“I was pretty burned out after high school, and [the gap year] gave me perspective on what I wanted to pursue in college and a chance to recharge,” Alexa said.
Many high school seniors’ reservations about gap years prevent them from taking time away from school. For one thing, in many cases, a student and her parents must reapply for financial aid, and the financial aid package that a school offers one year may differ from the package offered to the same student in a previous year. Additionally, a student’s reasoning for not taking a gap year could be the desire to matriculate at the same time as her high school classmates.
Alexa admitted that it was initially difficult to see pictures of her friends and peers in their college environments.
“There was a period when I was in LA alone…and everyone was in college,” she said with a touch of melancholy. However, she added that catching up with her friends and trading stories about their individual adventures is a rewarding experience in itself.
Seniors recently emerging from the college application process are hesitant to delay their matriculations. Though Rachel ’14 finds the idea of a gap year appealing and beneficial, she has not given the prospect much consideration.
“I don’t really want to be a year older than everyone else when I start college, and I’m also excited to graduate from college eventually and get started with my life, so I don’t really want to take an extra year [to do that],” she said.
“[A gap year]’s not a one-size-fits-all prescription,” Alexa cautioned. Nevertheless, she said, she has found the experience worthwhile and is now rejuvenated for college.