Bridging the Gap

By Guest Contributor

Two years ago when we received the fat acceptance package from Middlebury, we were pleasantly surprised to find a letter encouraging newly admitted students to take a gap year. Yes, we individually thought, some reassurance for this wild, scary thing I’m about to do after high school. Unlike many students in our high schools, we sent our deposit with a letter saying that we would defer admissions to college for one year.

Like every other first-year student, we highly anticipated our arrival at Middlebury. We were surprised to find that there was no way to connect with the gap year students in our own class. Unfortunately, because there is no targeted resource base for gap year students at Middlebury, there was no support or community. In fact, the only way we knew if someone else took a gap year was by word of mouth or if it came up in conversation. Though we each had this shared experience, we were lost in the crowd and unable to identify each other. While we arrive on campus in September like any other first-year, we also carry with us the unique challenges of reacquainting ourselves with academic and social life.

None of this is to say that we are better than our peers or that we deserve special recognition, rather, that we as a community can do a better job at welcoming gap year students. That’s why we are forming an organization that will help gap year students transition to Middlebury. In the same ways that our campus has many organizations for people who share commonalities, our aim is to provide a similar space for those who have taken time “off.”

We envision an arrival process in which gap year students feel like they have a community to connect with and branch out from. We see our organization as a resource base for all students to learn about taking time away before or during their Middlebury career. We imagine that one day, taking a bridge year between high school and college becomes the norm and not the exception.

Whether you took a gap year or not, help us build this organization. Come to our constitutional meeting today, Mar. 21 at 8 p.m. in Axinn 109.

REBECCA GEIGER ’15+1 is from Atlanta, Ga., MARIAM KHAN ’15+1 is from Waterville, Maine, and WINSON LAW ’15+1 is from Seattle, Wash.