Florida Trend NEXT: The Gap Year – 12 months to find yourself

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So, you’ve decided that college is where you’re heading after graduation. Three months at home and then off to campus, right? Says who? Have you even considered the option of taking a year off to prepare for college life? And no, we’re not talking about sleeping until noon or chillaxin’ on the beach all day. A gap year is a productive breather you might take to do some soul searching, earn money, make a difference and otherwise renew, refresh and recharge before heading off to college. There aren’t many rules for a gap year, and gappers (as they’re called) have built houses for needy families, backpacked in Europe, worked in museums overseas and volunteered as firefighters.

Jennifer Powell, 18, is deferring her admission to New College of Florida (NCF) to take a cross-country road trip and work. “After graduating from high school I was burnt out, and the idea of just having the summer to rest wasn’t appealing to me,” says the Winter Park High School grad.

Jennifer is currently traveling around the country visiting art museums in preparation for the art and English classes she’ll take at NCF.

Lee Ellen Reed, 20, was accepted to NCF for the 2004-05 year, but took a year off to work with World-Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The organization connected her with farming families in Europe. Lee Ellen worked in the fields, milked cows and made cheese and yogurt. In exchange for her work, the families provided her with food and shelter.

“High school and college are two totally different worlds, and I think you need that transition time to really prepare emotionally,” Lee Ellen says. “I spoke to my friends who didn’t take a break, and they said they wished they would’ve taken a gap year to obtain the life experiences I did.”

Lawrence Carlton, 19, a graduate of Lake Wales High School, took a year off after graduation to volunteer with AmeriCorps’ Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA). For the past year, he has volunteered with the Polk County Board of County Commissioners’ Neighborhood Partnership Office.

“I’ve had the opportunity to clean and improve our public parks and organize seminars, hurricane expos and health fairs for people in my community,” Lawrence says. “When I was in high school, I slacked off a little. But this year has helped me plan my future.”

Lawrence will finish his service with AmeriCorps this fall and will study business and accounting at Polk Community College in January.

Talk to your family and guidance counselor to see if a gap year is right for you. Most colleges encourage you to go ahead and apply while you’re still in high school and have access to your guidance counselor, records, scholarship opportunities, test preparation assistance and teachers to write letters of recommendation. It’s also a good idea to check with the admissions officers at the college you’re applying to in order to find out how a gap year may affect your admission and potential scholarships.


–Ashley Cisneros
Ashley Cisneros is a co-founder of Chatter Buzz Media, an Orlando Internet marketing firm that helps companies and organizations engage with their target markets through inbound marketing via the Internet. Chatter Buzz Media, which won the Social Madness competition for the Orlando small business market, is a full-service digital marketing firm specializing in website design, search engine optimization (SEO), social media marketing and content creation. Prior to founding Chatter Buzz, Ashley worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, technical writer, marketing manager, public relations practitioner and freelance journalist. To see Ashley’s content writing, visit www.ashleycisneros.com. You can also reach Ashley on her Google profile.

By | 2017-04-28T07:32:40+00:00 December 21st, 2008|Categories: Blog, Samples|Tags: |0 Comments

About the Author:

Ashley Cisneros Mejia is a journalist, entrepreneur and marketer. She began her career as a newspaper reporter and later as an editor at Florida Trend business magazine. Ashley has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2009, as a technical writer, marketing manager, and public relations practitioner. She also founded two digital marketing agencies in Orlando. Named one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 and honored by the Women’s Executive Council of Orlando for achievements in media and communications, Ashley earned a B.S. in Journalism and an M.S. in Entrepreneurship at the University of Florida.

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