Miranda Milunsky worked with an advisor at Gap Year Solutions to plan her gap year.
Why did you choose to participate in a gap year program?
During my junior year of high school, I was dealing with significant family stressors. I needed to find a way to decompress. Removing the immediacy of the college search and application process allowed me to breathe. I decided I would not take my ACTs until the spring of senior year or apply to college until my gap year. Retrospectively, my gap year was necessary to help me figure out who I am and who I want to be, what college would be the best fit and what I wanted to study.
How did a gap year advisor help you with your gap year?
My advisor at Gap Year Solutions, Katherine Stievater, took the time to get to know me, making me feel comfortable and confident about taking this year for myself. She helped me set goals and take ownership of my gap year. This included earning money to put toward my travel, finding an internship to learn about future careers, and the importance of journaling. She made planning the year easier by making a timeline of what needed to be done. Once I chose the region where I wanted to travel, she discussed my budget, and offered several vetted programs with different focuses. My year would not have been the same without her guidance.
What was a typical day like in your gap year experience?
I split my gap year into two very distinct segments: the first allowing me to make money and explore career interests, and the second giving me the opportunity to travel. From September to January, I volunteered three mornings a week at a rehab hospital. I arrived early to feed spinal cord patients, and then worked one day on the pediatric floor, the next in the speech department, and the last in the physical therapy gym. In the afternoons I nannied for a family, picking up the children from school, assisting them with homework, preparing dinner, and playing with them. On the other weekdays I visited colleges and completed applications. My nights consisted of ballroom dance lessons, and several weekends included ballroom dance competitions.
From February to April, I travelled to Nepal with a Gap Year program. Our trekking days consisted of waking up early to hike, and resting at campsites at night. When staying in the city, we had language class, culture class, and a few hours of an independent project. During the rural village stay, we continued with language class and worked in the fields.
What was the most memorable moment of your gap year?
My gap year far exceeded my expectations, from learning a new language to completing a long trek, from making lifelong friends to tracking my trip by journaling, from deepening my interest in physical rehabilitation to becoming more responsible. This year was so meaningful to me, filled with wonderful memories.
What advice do you have for teens looking at gap year options?
The biggest piece of advice I have to offer is to be open and accepting. A gap year is the perfect time to discover more about yourself, clarifying your values and interests. You may be surprised with how much you can learn from engaging with the world around you. Embrace the change.