The best decision I ever made was (sorta) forced upon me. Up until fall of grade 11 I had high, high hopes of going to university and becoming a pediatric oncologist (kids cancer doctor). Then my life changed (as life does) and after a rough grade 11 and an even worse grade 12, I was left feeling hopeless in the summer of '06. I had graduated highschool with lower that my potential grades and hadn't applied to university. I had even started looking at community colleges (don't get me wrong community colleges are great... but after wanting to go to med school, it just didn't feel like the right fit for me.)
ENTER GAP YEAR!!!
For those of you who don't know a gap year is the year that some students take between highschool and post-secondary education. Some work for the year, some travel Europe, others take a 5th year of highschool. I decided on option 3 (but I was also working full time!)
I had fortunately gotten my life turned around by then and was, finally, headed back on the right track. Because I had already graduated and didn't really need to be at school (plus I had special sign out privileges) My attendance in my 5th year wasn't too stellar. However, I was able to pull my marks up enough to graduate with honours!!! But that's not the important part of the story...
I grew up a lot that year. I had to really manage my time between full time work and full time school. Plus I volunteered in the peer tutoring network and in a grade 2/3 classroom. And I spent a lot of time with friends. Plus I was dealing with all the baggage I was carrying around from the previous two years. You know what else happened in that time?
~ I turned 19: legally old enough to sign myself out of school, to drink, to vote. I became AN ADULT.
~ I realized I wanted to be a teacher and that I loved psychology
~ I made some solid friendships that helped me through the bad days and showed me not everyone wants to hurt you.
~ I was accepted to U of O
~ I learned a lot about who I was and where I wanted to go.
~ I saved money for university and got valuable work experience.
~ Abandoned by peers your age. Not very many choose a 5th year of highschool but I promise you'll make new friends. Europe and working will allow you to meet new people too.
~ Feel like you're being left behind... You kind of are BUT when you reach post-secondary there is a huge, huge age range and you'll fit right in.
~ Failure to meet the expectations of friends and (even worse) family. Who cares what they think is "right". Only you can decide for yourself.
The GAP YEAR did a lot for me. But mostly just gave me time to mature. Whether or not you've had a rough time in highschool taking this year to grow and mature is worth your while. I seriously don't think there's a down side to taking your time after highschool to figure out who you are and what you want!!! Knowing that is such a great feeling!