The Four Year Gap Year: My Daughter’s Journey to College
When I was pregnant with my first child I could not wait until the day would come when I would meet her face-to-face and begin my new role in life as her mother. In the early 90’s, when I was pregnant, finding out the gender of your child during the pregnancy was not as common as it is today. Still, I wanted to know. In fact, I wanted to learn everything I could possibly know about this child before she was even born. And, as ridiculous as this seems, if there had been a test to predict which college she would attend, I would have had that test done, too.
Fortunately, for both of us, there was no such test. Predicting where a child will go to college (or even if they will go) is a crazy idea, not to mention impossible. There are just too many factors that influence where a child end up in life, let alone having to rely on the decision-making powers of 17 year-olds.
Still, as parents, we don’t shy away from hoping our child ends up finding the right college fit. That was always my dream for my daughter. With a career in college admissions, it’s only natural to wonder which college would turn out to be the one where she would be happy and thrive, but as she became less interested in high school, let alone applying to college, and more interested in getting a job and asserting her independence, I realized a gap year may be just the thing she needed before she could embrace the value of a college degree.
A gap year + 3
Her gap year turned into four. She spent the first three years living on her own, working a variety jobs, interning, traveling, and becoming certified to teach yoga (in other words, she “grew up”).
Once she decided she was ready to go to college, she spent the fourth year saving money, researching and preparing to apply.
She owned the process and with it came a twist I could have never predicted. She wanted to go to college in England. Her travels had taken her to the UK and, along the way, she discovered the University of Salford and decided that was the “uni” for her.
Applying to colleges abroad meant applying through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), a centralized service for applying to British colleges. It also meant learning about and applying for a student visa, plus a lot of other steps along the way.
She tackled every step with fierce resolve and even spent months (not days, not weeks but months) working on her college essay; a process, which in itself, helped her make the final decision regarding which major (program) to apply to.
Predicting a baby’s gender is a highly reliable, scientific process; predictions about the choices your child will make is guesswork at best and that leaves plenty of room for a lifetime of surprise.