Meet the Fellows: James and Why a Gap Year Helps You Find a Better Path

May 21, 2018
Year On TeamFellow Voices

#GapYearDecisionDay is May 25th! As students from around the world prepare to share their gap year plans, we wanted to highlight some of the reasons our current fellows decided to take a gap year.

Today, we sat down with James, a fellow from our gap semester experience, to talk about why he decided to take a gap year and how it has helped him explore a new path for himself.

Year On: What advice do you have for students who are thinking about taking a gap year?

James: Stepping off of the traditional conveyor belt to ‘success’ has been the best choice I’ve made in the past few years. Taking intentional time to think critically, learn about yourself and what you really want, and build up a toolkit of personal and professional skills will set you up to get the most out of your next few years, whatever they may look like! If you have the opportunity to take a ‘gap year,’ take it!

Year On: Why did you decide to take a gap year?

James: The past two years of mine at both Cal Poly SLO and at Whitman College have been turbulent, to say the least, and I think higher-ed needs to be radically restructured. Whether it was having limited academic freedom, feeling as though I was being more protected than prepared, or just feeling like I was jumping through hoops, I’ve always felt like a square peg in a round hole in college.

So, in short, I took a gap year to get unstuck, take back my learning, and find a better path for myself moving forwards.

Year On: What’s one thing you learned about the world and about yourself by traveling abroad?

James: I went to India for Explore, and it was the best trip I’ve ever taken, hands down. My past two years were pretty monotonous, and being in India was the complete opposite of monotony! I learned a ton... but two quick things I learned would be that human connection is paramount and that I am unfathomably lucky. Being abroad just gave me a whole new perspective and appreciation for life, and I’ve grown in so many ways as a result. Can’t wait to go back someday, I miss everyone there a ton.

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