Joseph Caplis participated in the spring semester of American University’s Gap Program.
Why did you choose to participate in a gap year program?
I had never intended to take a gap year. In fact, I was adamantly opposed to it. The decision to do so is one of the best I’ve ever made. Now that I’m wrapping up my first semester in college, I see the incredible benefits a gap-year provided. For example, one skill my gap experience gave me before coming to college was knowing how to schedule my week, manage my time and take care of all the necessities of college life while still having plenty of time for friends and sleep.
How did you decide which gap year program was right for you?
Luckily for me, deciding on the AU Gap Program was an easy choice. Though I had never seen the school or met anyone there, I had always had an interest in politics and an attraction to Washington D.C. My experience was enhanced because I chose the program that I was excited about and it couldn’t have worked out more perfectly.
What was a typical day like in your gap experience?
There were two types of weekdays during the program. Two times a week we would have class with our incredible professor. Part of the class was lecture, but the majority of class time was spent riding the Metro to meet and talk with incredibly cool and important people in embassies, think-tanks and other organizations in an intimate environment. The other three days a week were spent at my internship with the Federalist Society where I had the chance to dive head-first into interesting and fun work ranging from writing briefs on Supreme Court cases, to creating reports that required working with the FBI or other agencies, to going to New York for a national conference.
What was the most memorable moment of your gap experience?
It’s so hard to pick one shining moment. Between having the opportunity to meet some of DC’s most incredible minds, getting a unique insight into the inner-workings of the world’s most important city and spending time exploring all the things DC has to offer, I think it’s impossible to decide! But I will always remember our Tuesday tradition of riding the Metro’s Red Line down to the Lincoln Memorial with my best friends, watching the sun set over Arlington, then walking past the White House to our favorite restaurant for Taco Tuesday!
What advice do you have for teens looking at gap year options?
The best advice would be this: There will never again be a time in life where you can pursue your passion and explore your interests unbridled. Don’t worry, you’re not falling behind your peers in college, you’re getting ahead of them by gaining real-life knowledge and skills before you ever set foot onto your four-year home. College will always be there, and you’ll have it to look forward to, but at the end of your gap program you may find yourself never wanting to leave!