Open Panel: Consider the gap year

Today, May 1st, marks the deadline when admitted students must decide whether or not they will matriculate at Brown. On this occasion, BlogDailyHerald has assembled a sampling of students and recent alumni who chose to take a “gap year,” or a year off in between high school and higher education. These Brunonians have offered their candid insights on why they opted to devise their own sixteen-month-long itinerary, rather than transitioning conventionally from high school to college. Whether Brown chooses to defer your acceptance or you are considering deferring your acceptance to Brown, this open panel can serve as a resource as you figure out what you will do over your gap year or if a gap year would be right for you.
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Name: Andrew Linder

Graduation Year/Concentration: 2017, Slavic Studies

How did you spend your gap year?: The short answer is that I spent 9 months living in Kazan, Russia taking intensive daily language courses. The long answer is that I went with a National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) scholarship, which is a program fully funded by the U.S. Department of State. I was with 14 other American students in Kazan. I lived with a host family who spoke no English but had two amazing pugs.

Why did you take a gap year?: I knew that I at least wanted to entertain the idea of a gap year because it sounded like a unique experience and something that I might benefit from. I applied to NSLI-Y at the same time as I was applying to schools. I was accepted to the program and to college in the same week and I had to make my decisions (about school and whether or not I would take a gap year) pretty quickly. I was nervous about taking a full year off but when I weighed the pros and cons I quickly realized that there were actually no cons. The stretch from first grade through high school is 12 years, which is a really long time. For most people this stretch then turns into 16 years and maybe even more with graduate school. Taking a break from the same schedule of schooling every year was intriguing and seemed pretty refreshing.

Why would you recommend a gap year to incoming students: There is absolutely no question in my mind that taking a gap year was a great choice. A year between high school and college, regardless of what you do with it, is a really awesome time to reflect on a lot of things. As tacky as it sounds, I learned so much about myself on my gap year. When I came back from my year off, I felt like I was recharged.  I was excited to get back into the classroom and meet new people.

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