Sample Scenarios

Tim: Reapplying to College
Lauren: Finding a College Major & Career
Jared: Discovering Passion & Purpose
Emily: Taking a College Break
Diana: Exploring Careers After College

Tim: Reapplying to College
Tim didn't get into any of his top college choices. Rather than settling for one of the schools at which he was accepted, he decided to take a gap year to reapply to his colleges of choice, pursue his interests in Italy and writing, and prove himself academically.

We proposed the following scenario:
Fall: semester of tutorials in writing and other subjects in England
Winter: 6-week art history course in Italy
Spring: restoration work in France or volunteer work camps around Europe

Tim applied to the programs in England and Italy which took him through March, but he was undecided about what to do later in the spring. He decided to wait and see how the first two programs went before making a decision. While in England, Tim regularly traveled throughout Britain with classmates and he enjoyed England so much that he applied to several colleges in the UK. He also reapplied to his top college choices in the U.S.

In January, he headed to Italy still undecided about his next step. The art history program included some Italian language classes and Tim surprised himself by swiftly picking up the language as he chatted regularly with local Italians. He also fell in love with Florence and emailed us to ask if he could study Italian there. We sent him an array of language programs and he was soon ensconced in a home stay and taking twenty hours a week of Italian language instruction as well as a cooking class.

While traveling in Europe with friends he met at the language school, Tim received word of his acceptance into one of his top U.S. college choices, as well as one of the schools in the UK.

Lauren: Finding a College Major & Career
Lauren attended a high-powered public high school in the DC area. When she decided to take a gap year, she unnerved those around her by also choosing not to apply to colleges during her senior year. Most gap year students generally apply to college while in high school and then ask colleges for a deferral once they are accepted; Lauren wanted to experience something new first and then be able to apply to college with more focus and vigor. She was interested in art history and doing service work in Africa.

We arranged a gap year that ran as follows:
Summer: working
Fall: three months living and teaching in a village in Ghana on a group program
Winter: home to apply to colleges, and art history program in Italy
Spring: working

Lauren's experience in Ghana was transformative. She knew that she wanted to continue to do development work with a focus on Africa. Based on the positive response of the admissions staff, she feels certain to this day that her college application essay describing her Africa experience and intent regarding a future major helped her gain acceptance at Tufts University. While at Tufts, Lauren majored in development work and returned to Africa to continue her field work. Following graduation, she swiftly landed a job in DC involving development work abroad precisely because she already had so much field work experience to offer.

Jared: Discovering Passion & Purpose
Jared hated school. He didn't like to be told what to do and didn't see the point of suffering through algebra problems. What he really liked doing was hiking in the woods with his guidebooks, observing birds in their natural habitat. In fact, the only time he ever enjoyed school was when his class took a field trip. Jared had no desire to attend college and, given that he hadn't even graduated high school, he didn't have college options to consider.

When Jared came to the office for an initial meeting, he knew two things: he was fascinated by wildlife and he didn't ever want to go back to school. We discussed a number of wildlife options and he jumped at the chance to intern at a conservation center for birds of prey along the fall migration path out west. He would be catching, banding and tracking hawks. We didn't hesitate to recommend him because, although school had been a disaster, his boss at the local animal shelter said that he was a great employee, conscientious and passionate because he was doing something he liked.

As part of a deal he made with his parents, he agreed to take the GED in the summer, and successfully got his equivalency degree for high school before starting with the hawks that fall. His fall internship was such a success that he was easily accepted at a wildlife sanctuary on the east coast in the spring, helping to care for injured animals. The following fall, after working construction for the summer, he did another internship at a national park off the east coast. Although the position was normally for college students, Jared's experience and enthusiasm won him the job.

His year looked like this:
Summer: GED
Fall: hawk internship out west
Spring: wildlife rescue and rehabilitation on the east coast
Summer: construction work
Fall: internship with a wildlife biologist in Virginia

Following his third internship, Jared realized that he wanted to pursue a career working with wildlife and would need a college degree to do so. He got a job in January and began community college classes. A year later, he enrolled full-time at his state university, studying biology.

Emily: Taking a College Break
Emily returned home from her sophomore year of college having made a decision that terrified her parents: after a lackluster spring semester, she decided that she needed a break from academia. She had lost all interest in classes, had no clear idea of what to study and felt that she was wasting her parents' money. During her first meeting with Interim, Emily revealed that she wasn't particularly adventurous. Although she admired people who had been to the wilds of South America and Asia, on a scale of 1-10, with "1" being wimpy and "10" being a pioneer, Emily was a self-described "4". She wanted to do social service work, improve her Spanish, and meet students her own age. We discussed a number of options. Most appealing was a semester of service work in Central America with a group of peers and two group leaders. She would use her Spanish in home stays and for community service projects. An added bonus was getting SCUBA certified.

A tentative plan for the year was thus:
Fall: group service semester in Central America
Spring: group semester of cultural study in Spain

Emily headed off to Central America in the fall, fully expecting to follow the original plan. While she was there, something unexpected happened. She came into our office upon her return in December and announced, "I'm now an 11!" Her travels in Central America had opened up a hidden adventurous side; she found that she loved exploring on her own, meeting locals, and relying on her improving Spanish to navigate the culture. She asked if it was too late to change her spring plans because now she wanted true fluency in Spanish and independence from American peers.

Some language school students she'd met in Central America told her how much they'd enjoyed Chile and this piqued her interest. Our contact in Chile checked with local orphanages and located an opening at a girls' home. Another Interim student had recently been there and after Emily chatted with her, she was eager to go. Upon her acceptance, she spent the spring as a teacher's assistant and living at the girls' home. Although complete dependency on her Spanish was difficult at first, she soon found herself comfortably speaking the language. By the end of her gap year, Emily had acquired real fluency in Spanish and a level of independence that she didn't think possible.

Diana: Exploring Careers after College
Diana finished college ready to take a break and undecided about work or graduate school. She wanted to explore potential careers in fashion marketing or photojournalism and was interested in living outside the US for a while.

We outlined a year that incorporated all of these interests:
Summer: work to earn gap-year expenses
Fall: fashion internship in England
Winter: home for the Holidays and work
Spring: journalism internship, restaurant work and travel in New Zealand

Diana started off by working several jobs during the summer after her graduation and living at home with her parents so that she could save as much as possible to put toward her year. In September, she headed to London for three months to work as an intern in the fashion marketing field, while living in shared apartments with other interns. She loved London and her social life but came back saying that the internship experience really was like "The Devil Wears Prada"; she was pleased to have determined that this particular field was not for her.

After a holiday break at home seeing friends and family and working again to save up more money, Diana flew to New Zealand. She had applied for a holiday working visa that would allow her to legally work in country for up to a year but began with an unpaid photojournalism internship in Wellington from January to March. As in London, her social life was instantaneous through living in shared apartments with other interns and volunteers but unlike London, she really enjoyed her internship and began thinking seriously about a career in journalism. From April to June, Diana worked at a local restaurant to cover basic expenses and then traveled in New Zealand for two weeks before returning to the US. Her plan was clear: she would see if she could land a journalism job and also begin to apply for graduate school with this focus. She knew that she could use her excellent references from the New Zealand internship for both her job search and grad school applications.

Go back to look at some of our many program options here.


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