May Oo Khine
How I spent my gap year (and why YOU should take one)!
High school juniors and seniors, as college application season approaches, you probably will have a lot of things on your mind.
Scheduling dates for your standardized tests.
Asking for recommendations.
Mapping out essays.
Making a list of potential universities.
Occupied with all this, you might overlook the option of a gap year. This is where you take a year — or more, depending on what you choose to do — to pursue an interest or a curiosity before you enroll in college.
Quite daunting, isn't it?
At least that was how I found it when I chose to take one after graduation. No one I knew had taken a gap year before. And especially back home in Myanmar, there was some sort of stigma around gap years.
"It's a year wasted."
Not if you're focusing on your mental growth and taking up an interest.
"It's for people who're not ready for college."
You're only 17, 18 years old; it's only natural to feel this way.
I, for one, needed to take a step back and take a good look at what I wanted to do before college. Some family health concerns also surfaced. But for once, there were no rules or restrictions from high school. No due dates, stress over examinations, all-nighters. The whole world seemed to lie in front of me, ready for my taking.
Being the youngest and least-experienced on the team, I was full of jitters. This was the actual real world now! But then, I had to remind myself that I just can't expect myself to avoid making mistakes. Even if I do, I had to learn to take it with a grain of salt and get back up on my feet. This is the kind of realization that really impresses on you beyond the walls of a classroom.
With my team — who became great mentors for me — I travelled around Myanmar to several villages and worked at schools to provide health services for students. Even as a proud Burmese, these were places which I have never heard of and people from ethnicities which I've never known. It was sincerely eye-opening. Living at the monastic school for 2 months, I was inspired by how so many youth in under-developed nations like my own have so much thirst and passion for change.
The lessons I will take away from my gap year extend far beyond learning what 6/18 vision means or how to deal with a classroom of forty 6th graders. Meeting true professionals and working with actual people and problems, I was once again brought out of my own little bubble that I knew was "high school." I questioned who I thought I was and how I worked best outside school. Simply put, I learned to define my value, not just as a student, a health worker or a teacher, but as a human being.
Thinking about taking a gap or service year before coming to Dartmouth? Click here to learn more.
Posts You Might Like
We so very wish you could step onto Dartmouth's campus yourself to witness the beauty of our winters live, but COVID-19 has made visiting campuses extremely difficult. I would love to share some of my favorite photos from this past snowy week!