Thursday, May 21, 2009

mind the gap

Back in April, Gray got acceptance letters from a couple of great colleges, but was put on the waiting list at a few others, including his first choice school. Today, he got the phone call from the admissions office telling him that he's been accepted at First Choice College. I generally try to avoid the bragging mama thing, but I am really happy about this. Especially since FCC is the same school that I went to, long, long ago.

Anyway, with the school's blessing, Gray is going to defer for a year, so he'll be starting college in September 2010. Which means he needs to figure out something to do for a year. I (and Gray) would very much welcome whatever suggestions you might have.

Any ideas (no matter how vague or impractical)?

60 comments:

Aurelia said...

hmm, just left a comment that got eaten.

short version: serious congratulations, great school.

Travel yes, but also work somewhere and pay rent and live away from home and screw up and drink all the rent money and that more than anything will teach him about life.

Just don't let him live at home and do something boring.

Melissa said...

I also suggest that he live away from home and support himself.

I went through that myself at 17-18 years old, but without the support system. Needless to say I completely fucked everything up and was even homeless for awhile.

I wish I would have had a practice run at it before moving 1500 miles away from home.

Anonymous said...

How about some volunteer work? It would look great on a resume after he graduates from college.

Mrs. Spit said...

Peace Corp? Short term volunteer work in Africa?

Eva said...

Congratulations!

Travel and/or work. Well, work over travel, but somewhere away from home. Real work.

Rachel said...

Nice!

Nothing made me enjoy college more than a crappy desk job during my year off. It really made me appreciate what could be.

An apartment, paying bills, independence. It really made me grow.

Joy said...

I agree. A crap job is very motivating.

Anonymous said...

Volunteer work in a foreign country. He will have to work, he won't have a lot of money, he will live away from home, and when he returns he will appreciate everything he has that much more and also have a broader view of the world.

k@lakly said...

TRAVEL!!!!!!

Jillian said...

Congrats to Gray and pack his very well made backpack so that it lasts, and send him on his way.

I took a gap year after high school and it is still the best thing I ever did. I will be sending my kids out into the world in the same way.

Living in other countries/cultures is the best education a human being can get IMO :)

Tash said...

Travel. Whether it involves working for $, volunteering, or being a travel/student bum, travel. Take advantage of hostels, student fares, and youthful stamina. And please, take a camera.

Huge congratulations to you!

Anonymous said...

Congrats Gray (and Niobe!)

I'd suggest a year teaching English abroad, like Japan, Taiwan, China, or Russia. Or some relief work in Africa or South America. Plenty of orphanages around the world need a helping hand.

Again, congratulations!
Anne

S. said...

Mazel tov!

And I say: something that will throw him in with people in their early 20's who will show him by example that this whole college thing is something that gets you to the other side of it, not the last goal you can imagine having in your life.

Julia said...

Congratulations! (And I say this despite the fact that my own diplomas come with a requirement to snark at and make fun of the FCC. What can I say? I make exceptions. :))

And I second the travel part, perhaps with a touch of good deeds, as this is certainly THE age to hang with the poor and the idealistic.

Road Blocks and Roller Coasters said...

Congratulations! My recommendation is that maybe he spend the time working or volunteering in the field he wants to go into when he goes to school. Of course if he can afford travel i'd do that too, but if he can get a good perspective on where he's headed it can save a lot of trouble on the end. Best wishes! :)

Two Hands said...

Congrats! That's wonderful.
A crap job did it for me. Some time spent feeling your brain actively shrinking will motivate anyone towards higher education.
That being said, volunteering can be a great way to get your feet wet in a lot of different areas in a relatively short period of time.

painted maypole said...

backpack through Europe! That's what I wanted to do.

Congrats to Gray. and You.

Maureen said...

I spent 3 months living in a L'Arche community. Essentially, it was an "adult family home" (think group home) where what is normally called "staff" lives along with the other members. It was a great experience (although I did it after I go my diploma)

Congratulations!

Magpie said...

So many great ideas here. Congratulations to him, and lots of luck with that gap year. I s'pose he doesn't want to stay home and babysit?

Rachel said...

I would suggest working in whatever field he is planning to go into later on. Not too exciting I know, but saves time later on.

Second choice go to some third world country and help out however you can.

The Nanny said...

Congrats to Gray! I *loved* that I took a year off. It was the best decision I could have made (both financially and personally -- I was excited and ready to go back to school).

Also, mad props to you for supporting his deferment. Most parents aren't so accepting of a "radical" idea like that (mine were, thank goodness, but most of my friends' weren't).

I was a nanny during my gap year. Mannies (male nannies) are high in demand these days...and it pays really well. Just a suggestion :)

The Nanny said...

(Oh, and my two cents: if money is at all an issue, I'd say live at home. I needed to be saving up for college and having to pay a rent check would have eaten up any money I made. Even though it wasn't 'cool' to live with my parents, it saved me a ridiculous amount of money. I had plenty of independence once I went to college.)

The Nanny said...

Ahhhh, sorry for a third comment. But I have more advice. How about an internship? Even if he doesn't know what he wants to do post-college, ANY internship will look good on a resume. I was listening to an interview on NPR and it was talking about how students our age (mine and Gray's) are going to have a really difficult time finding jobs, since there are SO MANY of us. Internships are one way they recommended getting ahead of the curve. Plus, in crappy economic times, there are lots of internships to be had, with companies not wanting to pay people to work. (Hopefully that makes sense.)

Also, if he wants to get some credits out of the way, community college classes are always an option (and a money-saver).

Smiling said...

Congrats! Here in NZ there is a very big culture of an OE (overseas experience) and of the gap year. Many people sign up for working holiday visas overseas and just go have a go of it.

There is that saying about having either time or money, but not both. Particularly in America where it is hard to get the health insurance without full time work and then very little time off... I say suggest that he figure out what is the best way to spend that very very precious TIME that he has next year. It is so rare to get a full year to chase dreams without heaps of responsibilities. It is hard when young to think about what would you look back on best.. but I suspect you raised a son who could do that:) If I were him I'd ask myself, what could I do that is fun, challenging, and I couldn't do if I had to fit it in around school or work. So going skiing every week - nope can do that while working. Hiking the AT, volunteering long enough abroad to learn the language, starting a new local program that take effort and time more than money... well those are things that are really hard to do without a gap year.

Sometimes that is travel, or volunteering to experience something that normally would cost too much to experience the standard way, or pursue a non-money making pasion/hobby. At the very least I would plan a 4-6 trip away from home this summer to create that sense of having a go of it on your own. Travel can be a great way to figure out 'next steps.'

aw.. I'm a bit jealous and I am planning a gap 3 years in italy at the moment:)

B said...

I love the round-the-world tickets. 15 stops in 5 continents or something. (As long as you keep heading in the same direction).

I heard an interview recently in which the interviewee cited canoeing down the lower Zambezi as something that everyone must do. So he should do that. (And actually, I did look into it and it's not that expensive once you are in either Zimbabwe or Zambia)

Cheers to Gray.

B said...

See I'm toasting him in my avatar

The Nanny said...

I'm back again. Another thing I forgot, that you may not be aware of -- if he's not a full time student, but of age in your state (either 17 or 18, depending), he may not qualify on your insurance plan anymore. I had to get separate insurance for my gap year, and once I was a full-time student again, I went back on to my parents' plan.

Astarte said...

I have friends who have done a few different things. One got a job she knew she'd hate, so that she'd remember it and not be a screw-off in college, since she'd know exactly what it was like to be a non-degreed person in the real world. Another got an internship in a field she was interested in, to make sure it wasn't a mistake for her to focus in it (it ended up being perfect). A third did some travelling with youth hostels, and also did some charity work thru habitat for humanity. I think any of those three would be good choices.

Angela said...

Clearly the only answer to this is to travel grungily around Europe. Or some place else in the world. He's got the whole rest of his life to work at a job he hates/be a good person/be responsible/whatever.

Kristin said...

Huge congrats on getting his first choice school! I think maybe some heavy duty volunteer work (maybe Habitat For Humanity).

dj said...

I, also, am thinking of travelling. The old fashioned way; little money, great expectations. In Europe there's a system, Inter Rail Card, with great advantages. Or whatever destination appeals to him. I found a line somewhere saying that a mile of travelling equals an year of college. Yes, it's a line from the 19th century, but still.

dj said...

It's Harvard, right? I am speechless!

janis said...

I knew I won't be the first (or only one) to say: TRAVEL. Not with your Amex in his pocket of course. volunteer, back-packing, work-as-he-goes, what a great experience it will be.

kate said...

Congratulations! That's fantastic. My ideas have already been covered by other commenters.

Have a great weekend, BTW! I'll be thinking of you guys...

charmedgirl said...

wow...a kid in college. how does it feel to have one going off to college (albeit in a year) and a baby...and maybe another? i keep thinking about the day that the three go to kindergarten next september and i'm left alone on the porch (when i shouldn't have been)...the same week as paige's 3rd birthday. not the same, i know...still, i'm glad you've got one to cuddle when he's flying the coop. COLLEGE!! and a year of WHATEVER! awesome.

what he should do...ANYTHING but tv and video games. if i could go back in time, i'd stay here...go to the 10+ most awesome cities in the country for 4 weeks each...temp jobs (or bartending a night a week), renting rooms. seattle, LA/san diego/SF, vegas, phoenix, new orleans, chicago, key west, savannah...ETC

christina(apronstrings) said...

how exciting!
i only know from my experience:
-i worked in yellowstone for the summer. but they have year long employees too. at glacier np and the tetons.
-i volunteered with americorps. (after 2 years of school). vista is a great program. or it was at least.

and why not just bum around europe? well. besides the fact that the dollar isn't faring up against the euro--and mama would soon be broke.

Rachel said...

Since he has one year?

CityYear.10 months, you get a stipend + educational award, health insurance.

I'm still sorry that I didn't do it myself.

Anonymous said...

I like everyone Idea, but Magpie. It not his kid. My mom did that too, I should have been working and wanted too. So DONT stick him with the baby. I am sure he loves his brother, but it not his to take care of.

Grad3 said...

I wish I would have considered Hands On America, traveled more, and in general, gotten life experience.

Any one of these experiences would have enriched my college experience so much more.

Amelie said...

Congratulations!

For the gap year, I'd say travel, learn a new language or a craft/art, do something he'd love but normally has no time for. Leave home, make at least some of the money himself. A year is long -- one doesn't have to do the same thing all the time, 2 or 3 or 4 stages could be interesting as well. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

He should do a year of national service with AmeriCorps or VISTA. He can earn close to $5000 education award that he can use to pay off school loans, pay tuition, etc.

Clementine said...

Wonderful news--congratulations to Gray!

Dayna said...

Be a "Manny" -- in Europe! Travel, travel, travel is everything, and the best thing possible I ever did for myself.

What a wonderful mom you are, Niobe, to support him so.

Aunt Becky said...

He can come be my live-in help!

gretchen said...

Wait tables. Find out what it's like to work food service, earn nearly all your income via the whims and good feelings of others (tips), and make awesome friends you may normally not meet.

Travel, too.

Cara said...

Wow! Congrats to Grey and to you, proud mama!

Great sugesstions in the comments, so I'll just share with you what I heard on the radio about gap years...

Apparently there are "Gap Consultants" out there making good money counseling on college kids and adults alike on this very topic. By the sounds, you don't need one!!!

ewe are here said...

Congratulations to Gray!

I agree with the travel suggestions... you dont' get that many chances to see the world.

LawMommy said...

I was about to suggest a year teaching English in Japan (which was a very important year for me) - but it is unlikely he can do that without a B.A.

However, he could possibly do a year as an exchange student in a foreign high school. I know he's lived in France, so, maybe somewhere he's never been before? Asia, perhaps?

Sarah said...

Work for the summer, but in some place where you would only really want to work when you are young and full of life (think National Parks out west). Then chuck all the summer earnings into one of those around the world plane tickets and hit the road! The costs of nearly everything will be reduced, since he would be traveling during the "off" season. Plus, if he worked in a park he would likely work with many international kids, and could visit them to help extend the travels.
What a happy, exciting time - for both of you!

Emily said...

TRAVEL!

As far and as exotically as possible.

luna said...

travel travel travel. everyone else has already said it, I bet.

and congrats to all of you!

thirtysomething said...

Congrats to Gray! Hard work paid off.
Backpack through another country. Seriously. Or, at the minimum, spend a considerable amount of time immersed in another culture. I went to school for a year in Germany after high school and I can't even explain the way it stretched me, matured me and prepared me for the next phase in my life.

Anonymous said...

Well done Gray. I know there are internship positions at UNESCO in Paris and the EU commission here in Brussels. Doesn't he speak French and isn't there a French connection? There are dorm rooms at the Cité Universitaire (Paris) in the American house and that seems to be a cool place to be. There are also things callec kots here in Brussels which are privately owned dorm rooms that are cheap. It could be interesting for him to spend time in one place speaking a language that he knows but doesn't get to use in daily life and working for something that he finds important. He could also travel around europe on long weekends.
allypally

Lisa b said...

Congratulations!
When I read this travel immediately came to my mind, I am glad your other readers have some more specific suggestions.

three minute palaver said...

Teach english in Japan.

It's a very safe country so he won't get into too much mischief.
www.all-about-teaching-english-in-japan.com/

Or be a jackaroo in outback Australia,

and leave as a boy but come home a man.

(something like Jumbuck Pastoral ~ www.jumbuckpastoral.com/ )

and congratulations Niobe & Gray.

Ruby said...

Congratulations to you both!!!

Anonymous said...

Does he speak a second language? I would go off to live/study a second language somewhere. I learned Spanish at the ripe old age of 28 living in Mexico and in many ways learned more than I did in college and getting my master's degree. It's gotten me more jobs too...

Furrow said...

Congrats to Gray! And to you, proud mom. What a wonderful thing, to take an extra year to just live. Seems lots more kids are doing that these days.

Charlotte's Mama said...

When I graduated from HS (albeit 15 years ago) there was a book called "Time Out" and it was chock full of enlightening, enriching things to do. I took a year off and my parents' only rule was... it couldn't cost a dime (past living expenses). So NOLS was out... but I found some amazing programs and ended up doing wildlife rehabilitation and learning so much. I have no idea if such a book still exists...

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