Passports ready, set, stamped for gap year students

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As the school year is winding down, many seniors are having mixed feelings about their futures.
Most seniors, approximately 95%, will go to a four year university. A few will go to two year colleges. A few others will take gap years.
Gap year is essentially a blanket term used to describe when a student takes a year between high school and college to pursue other interests.
Students might work, volunteer, join the military, or travel.
Gap years are becoming more and more popular at New Trier. James Conroy, the Post High School Counseling Department Chair explained, “I am a big promoter of gap years as long as the students want to do them.”
Also, colleges are more aware of the benefits of a gap year. “Most of the gap year students apply to a college, are accepted, and defer for a year. The college would just move you into the following year or semester. I would say that between 85 to 95 percent of the colleges encourage gap years,” said Conroy.
In previous years, the numbers of students taking a gap year were close to zero. But in recent years, the gap year trend has been increasing to almost 10% class participation.
Frieda Greenthal, a 2015 senior, is one of the New Trier students who has elected to take a gap year. Greenthal is putting off college for a year to travel to Israel and Poland with a program run by a camp she has gone to for nine years.
The reasoning behind Greenthal’s decision is straight forward. Many students from her camp are participating and she has known many who have gone in the past. “This is a once in a lifetime experience and it would feel silly not to act on it,” says Geenthal.
The program is nine months long and consists of two parts. First, she will live on a “kibbutz”, which is a community of people living and working collectively. Then, she will live in a house in a city. Throughout the trip, Greenthal will be participating in projects that promote social justice.
Additionally, Greenthal will be receiving an informal education and will also travel to Poland for two weeks.
Greenthal does admit to being a little hesitant before her commitment to the program. She stated that in the beginning, she was concerned about being a year behind people her age and therefore being a year older than other students in her class.
She also admits that she wasn’t sure about being a year behind her friends. “Doing something different is always a little scary,” she said.
Greenthal is also following in her parent’s footsteps. Her father lived in Israel for a few years when he was younger. She has her parents’ full support and they are excited for her to start her journey.
Many students at New Trier stress about the college process, but for Greenthal, it’s something that can be put on the back burner for a bit. Greenthal deferred her admission to Maryland University and plans on attending in the fall of 2016. In regards to her gap year, Greenthal said, “You can only do this once, and you can do college whenever.”

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