Take a gap year! I left Covenant abruptly following a very rough fall semester last year, and returned to my family in Virginia Beach, leaving a supportive and understanding Covenant Community, much to my dismay. I took a light course load at a community college that spring and took some courses pertaining to some potential interests. One of these was a course in architectural drafting. It was exciting to have adequate time to give to my coursework and still having the scheduling finesse to surf and skate as well, amidst a frigid winter.
Being home in the spring semester was a great blessing. I was home for my sister’s last semester before taking a gap year (she’s doing it too!) to teach MK’s in Japan for MTW, and my brother’s diagnosis with type 1-diabetes at the beginning of February. I even got to be home as my old high school, where all my siblings attended and my Mom teaches Latin, almost dropped off the map.
I was able get into the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn New York because I had time to think and develop a worthy portfolio. I got a head start on the summer job search and found a job teaching people to sail and surf. Finally, I went to architecture school.
Architecture school fell victim to the critical mind that led me to Covenant in the first place. After a month and a half of model making and drafting eighteen to twenty hours a week, my history and theory class’s iteration of erudite architects being the best had me longing for Covenant’s core once more. Art school had me longing for campus community bathed in the Holy Spirit once more. I reduced my course load to two transferable classes and spent the remainder of my time there wandering the streets of Manhattan: exploring, sketching, subsisting off gluten free pastries, occasionally surfing, and talking to artists and architects of all kinds.
A year is a long time. God works in our lives in mysterious ways. What I saw as defeat - failing multiple exams at Covenant in the face of sleep deprivation - God redeemed by bringing me home and revealing two never before explored passions: architecture and New York City.
While I was forced by prudence to take a gap year, prior to this I would have described a gap year as complete academic suicide, a slam-dunk to super seniordom, a stepping stone to dropping out. Yet having gone and done it, and letting God take me where He’d take me, and now finally having some of the 20/20 hindsight to see the beauty of His plan, I only wish that gap years had less of a stigma when I embarked on mine.
So go ahead, finish the semester, but if things are overwhelming or uncertain, take a semester off and go home, or take a semester abroad. Or if you are like me, who just takes longer, take a gap year!