Why Graduating Seniors Shouldn’t Follow the Crowd

Questioning our pre-determined life path

By Jennifer Miller on March 25th, 2015
BootsnAll
Graduation is a monumental milestone.

Whether it is from high school, university, or a grad school, it’s a pivotal moment, a fork in the road, a point of transition and change. Most of us are palpably aware of the fact that the next steps we take will affect the course of our lives, but few of us have a grip on just how profoundly.

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Having been conditioned over the long haul by institutional schooling, it seems very easy to take the next step that everyone else is – be that university, grad school, or first forays into the career path of our training.

There are a few people who have clear direction at these turning points. They know who they are. They know where they’re going. Their dream is clear, and they’re chasing it hard.

The rest of us, well, we flounder a bit. We second guess. We wonder which is the right choice. We play eenie-meenie-miney-mo with the paths before us, and most of the time, the temptation to follow the crowd wins out.

I’m here to tell you that standing at the cross roads and not having any idea which path you should take is okay. It’s more than okay, it’s normal. The smart travelers will stop at that junction for as long as it takes to really know that the choice they make going forward is the right one for them.

“We play eenie-meenie-miney-mo with the paths before us, and most of the time, the temptation to follow the crowd wins out. “

Perhaps an afternoon with the career counselor will do the trick. Maybe a long weekend away with your Dad to chat through the possibilities will provide clarity. Maybe you need to take a week and sift through your brain and do some research on outside the box options and stand them up next to the obvious answers.

Or, perhaps what you really need is a year in the world: time to think, time to grow, time to let the world be your classroom.

Perhaps, you need to take a gap year and travel.

A gap year is not an abdication of adult responsibility, or a way of sticking your head in the sand to avoid the next set of hard choices and work. It’s not a waste of time and money. A gap year is, for many people, the best way to take the time to make an intelligent decision about the path that will determine the next decade of life.

It’s a time to rest after the big push that lead up to graduation and rejuvenate your soul for the next set of lessons. It’s an exercise in learning what the real world is like and where you fit in it. Statistically, young people who take a gap year return with greater clarity and focus regarding their educational and career paths and go on to higher academic achievement than their non-traveled peers. They also return with skills that give them an edge in a competitive work force.

In short, a gap year is a great idea.

Since you’re reading this article, the odds are good that you’re already drawn to the idea. You’re excited about the possibility of taking a year off of your formal academic studies and having an adventure. The world is calling to you, and you long to pack your bag, hit the road, and follow where she leads you.

“A gap year is, for many people, the best way to take the time to make an intelligent decision about the path that will determine the next decade of life. “

But it’s not that simple, is it?


Teen traveler

  • You may have to convince parents who’ve never traveled themselves to let you go
  • The logistics are overwhelming
  • You have no idea where to start
  • And then there’s the money. Travel is expensive, right?

In many ways, planning and executing a gap year is more difficult than just following the crowd and doing the next thing by heading to college or entering the work force. There are clear paths for those things. There are systems in place. There are people who make their whole lives out of helping you make those transitions.

By stepping off of the well traveled path and charting your own course, you’re going to make a few people nervous, and you’re going to challenge yourself in ways that you haven’t been yet.

With absolute freedom comes absolute responsibility, and you may find that the myriad of choices is the most dizzying and difficult part.

  • What do you do when you could do anything?
  • Where do you go when you could go anywhere?
  • How do you know what is right for you?
  • How do you make the most of the time so that you really benefit from it in the ways that you most want to?
  • How do you go about planning an educational year in the world for yourself?

How, indeed. Wrestling with these questions and struggling with the answers is the beginning of a real world education. In the absence of a clear path, carefully tended for you by the powers that be, you’ll need to forge your own.


“By stepping off of the well traveled path and charting your own course, you’re going to make a few people nervous, and you’re going to challenge yourself in ways that you haven’t been yet. “

If you are a graduating senior this year, then NOW is the time for you to be hard into your planning, if you are not already. Now is the time for you to be working, saving, and creatively funding your journey. At the same time, now is the time for you to be organizing educational opportunities for yourself, educating yourself about the possibilities that are out there, and gaining the skill set that you will need to travel safely and contribute to the world you meet out there in a positive manner.

Three new student travel projects


We are excited to announce three different projects that were built with you in the mind – the young traveler. These projects aren’t designed to just help you go on a big trip. They’re designed to help you use travel and the experience of long-term international travel to learn and grow and figure out what the next step in your life should be.

Travel Access Project


The Travel Access Project (TAP) is specially designed to help you create a completely unique adventure around the things you are most passionate about. You control the destinations, the cost, and every single aspect of the journey you take; we help you with all of the logistics and planning, as well as showing you how to maximize the educational potential and quantify it in a way that will blow the socks off your college admissions board or a potential employer.

Sound exciting? We’re taking a maximum of five early adventurers into our program this spring, you’ll want to make sure your name is on the waiting list.

Learn How to Plan Your Gap Year Trip in 30 Days


The first (and totally free!) step in creating amazing educational adventures for young people off on their first big trip is the addition of Learn How to Plan Your Gap Year Trip in 30 Days (GAPYEAR30 for short) to our acclaimed and highly effective family of RTW (round the world) trip planning boot camps.

GAPYEAR30-Students will be rolling out in May 2015, just in time to help this year’s graduating seniors get their boots on the ground for their gap year in the world. GAPYEAR30-Student is different from our other trip planning resources in that it is designed, and written, specifically for students graduating high school or college who are taking their first steps into independent travel with a gap year trip. We assume nothing. We prepare you for everything.

Sign up HERE to be the first on our list!

Learn How to Plan Your Gap Year Trip in 30 Days – Parent Edition


At the same time we release GAPYEAR30, we’ll be rolling out our GAPYEAR30-Parents edition. A thirty day bootcamp in how to help, support, encourage, and launch your child towards their dream of a year abroad on their own. Written by parents, for parents, we’ll address your unique concerns, arm you with information, and help you help your child forward.

Sign up HERE for early notification.

Read more about the benefits of long-term travel on a young person’s education:

Photo credits: Ice Cherry, kosmos111, Prasit Rodphan