A newly implemented tradition in the Breck Upper School is College T-Shirt Day. Normally held around May 1st, the day college decisions are due nationally, members of the graduating class will wear a shirt from the college or university they’ve decided to attend. Recently, teachers in the Upper School have caught on to the trend as well, wearing the shirt of their alma mater with pride, often taking pictures with students who’ve chosen to attend that school as well.
This past year, if you’d looked around at the impressive list of colleges students were attending, Notre Dame, USC, Harvard, Yale, you would have noticed a few students ironically wearing shirts from The Gap. These students are taking a gap year and are proud of it. According to the American Gap Association, between 30,000 and 40,000 students took advantage of their program in 2015, and they say that interest has only been growing. The idea of a gap year has long been common in Europe, and the trend is slowly taking hold in the US as well. Taking a year between their senior year of high school and freshman year of college is an appealing options for many students, some who want to work, some who choose to travel, and others who volunteer. We spoke with recent graduates Raunak Vijayakar and John Dempsey about their plans for this upcoming year.
Raunak Vijayakar decided to do a gap year after being inspired by his sister, Roshny, Breck class of 2012. He said he wanted to “feel like he had actually lived before going to college.” The appeal of a gap year, to him, was to get some real world experience and marketable skills, like EMT certification, before going off to undergraduate studies. While he deferred his enrollment at the University of Minnesota until next year, Raunak says that he will be applying to more schools, notably more international schools. He says having the freedom to create his own gap year rather than being boxed into four more years of studying has broadened his aspirations and has encouraged him to think more globally. For this upcoming year, he will be applying to colleges in the fall and then working in Denali National Park in Alaska for the winter and spring seasons. He says he decided against getting an internship or a resume-building research opportunity because, as he puts it, he “has a lot of education in front of him, so why not do something [he’s] really excited about?” I asked him what he thought his day-to-day would look like: “honestly I really don’t know, but that’s part of the fun.”
Paige Dempsey, John’s older sister, also did a gap year after she graduated from Breck in 2013. He says she encouraged him to go for it it, just like Roshny did for Raunak. John candidly admits that he's ready for a break from the rigors of academic life, and that taking a gap year allows him to pursue his passions. He will be spending 10 weeks in Switzerland training to be a ski instructor, and then hopes to go to Vail to utilize his training during the popular winter ski resort season. As a former captain of the Alpine Ski Team, he’s dedicated to the sport and is excited to see if this is something he wants to pursue as a career. He has deferred his enrollment at the University of Denver until the 2018-2019 school year, but says that it’s possible he’ll take more than a year off. He sees college sometime in his future, he says, but for now, he very excited to just ski.