Study Abroad gap year Germany
Taking a gap year between high school and college has become increasingly common. Although there is no official poll that tracks the number of students who choose to take gap years nationwide, Whitman students who choose to take a year off seem to support the idea.
The Whitman students who choose to take a year off believe that their experience abroad was incredibly valuable for their personal maturity, yet unexpectedly, did not help inform them of the direction in which they want to take their studies or potential careers.
“High school is a really busy time. College had always been the thing that was planned… [my gap year] was kind of a spur of the moment thing. I kind of decided in one day because, why not?” sophomore Becca Peterson-Perry said.
With increasing pressure to meet top qualifications for colleges, high school seniors often find themselves needing time away from high-stress academics. Many high school seniors spend their year off taking classes abroad or traveling. Peterson-Perry spent the first three and a half months of her gap year living with a host family outside of Santiago, Chile while taking classes at the university. She returned home for a month and then set off for Madrid, where she also stayed with a host family and took classes.
“And from [Madrid] I spent a couple weeks in Germany [and then] went from there to Italy, ” she said.
Based on a survey taken by incoming first-years, Director of Institutional Research Neal Christopherson estimates that 4-5 percent of the incoming class of 2015 took a gap year.
Sophomore Paul Lemieux spent his gap year on the northeastern coast of Brazil. Rotary International helped Lemieux find host families as well as Portuguese classes at the local university.
“I think I was the only one of my friends who did a gap year, ” Lemieux said.
Although Lemieux found relaxation in his time abroad, he stresses that the time away did not help him discover what he wanted to pursue after college.
“I was hoping my year abroad would give me time to decide what I want to do [after college], but it didn’t do that, ” Lemieux said.