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Recent Letter to the ElderWisdomCircle™

SCHOOL: Take a Year Off?
Letter #: 378156
Category: School

Original Letter

Hello!  My name is Avery and I'm a senior in high school and all around me people are applying to colleges as is expected for this time of year.  However, I'm planning on taking a year off of school to go to work and try to pursue a career in music.  This, of course, has been met with a lot of mixed feelings from my family.  Some support me, but others say that I'll be wasting my time and should go to school instead.  I am still very interested in going to college after taking a year off but several of my family members have said that if I take a year off I won't end up going to college at all.  It's a little discouraging to hear these things coming from my close family members and loved ones so I would like to know what I could say to them to maybe ease their minds and try to see things from my perspective. 

And also, I'm very certain of my decision to take a year off from school but it's hard to keep my head up when I see all of my classmates getting accepted and going off to college.  What should I do to cheer myself up when I feel like everyone's moving forward while I'm stuck here?  Thank you so much in advance for your reply!  I'm really looking forward to it.

Elder Response

    I was very interested to find your letter today, Avery, because the topic of Gap Year is on a lot of people’s minds nowadays!  I even heard on the news last night that President Obama’s daughter Malia is planning a Gap Year before attending Harvard.  So you’re not the only one, that’s for sure.
    In fact, I commented to my husband just this morning that I myself should probably have taken a Gap Year (more than 50 years ago!) because simply plunging ahead and going to college without any goal in mind was not the best growth experience I might have had.  Even half a century ago, many of my friends took a Gap Year somewhere during their undergraduate studies, and I was one of the few who simply finished with a B.A. in 4 straight years.  
    I have heard the nay-sayers who caution that once away from school it is harder to return to that kind of existence.  Maybe.  Depends on the person.  In your case, you have a musical career goal that you want to explore, so it’s not as if you would be aimlessly drifting.
    Of course, there are many programs that have sprung into being to “help” young people make the most of a Gap Year.  Heard on NPR that such programs can cost parents up to $19,000.  Hmmm.  Not so sure about that!  
    Again, in your case, Avery, you are going to pursue your music.  I do think it might be a good idea to lay the groundwork for a return to college by applying now, getting accepted, then postponing attendance (not sure how that works, but Malia Obama is doing that!) 
     You may very well want to refine your music skills with composition and conducting classes, music theory and history, etc. once you have laid some groundwork with fellow musicians in the “real” world.  I do urge you to keep an open mind about the depth and breadth of what it means to be a musician.  I have an (adult) son who has scorned learning to read music, has contented himself with laying down multiple tracks on his home computer system, and in my opinion has shortchanged himself with a very narrow musical horizon. In his case, music is more of a hobby than a career, and  his aversion to formal study has, in my opinion, limited the expression of his talent.  I hope you will enjoy your Gap Year, Avery, and will utilize all available resources to further your music career!  Good luck in your adventure!

Best Regards,



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