With the conclusion of Early Decision II admissions, 224 high school seniors have accepted a place in the Class of 2016. And after March 23, the target date for sending out regular decision letters, about 260 more will join them as the next incoming class takes shape. The rush of getting accepted to college might be enough to get many high school seniors to accept their spots in the Class of 2016 almost as soon as they rip open their fat envelopes. But amid all the excitement, consider what sending that letter back really means.
Some seniors could use time off from school to get their bearings after a grueling year, while others might prefer to go see the world or work on something amazing before rushing off to Brunswick. Whatever the case may be, we urge high school seniors to seriously consider the alternative to staying continuing the academic grind: the gap year.
To the potential members of the Class of 2016, we say this: at the end of the day, nothing can prepare you for coming to this campus, to 16-person classes, co-ed dorms, and your first Baxter campus-wide. We all must adjust to Bowdoin in our own way, and that process can only begin once we arrive. But how well we manage that process depends greatly on our past experiences—the greater and more varied they are, the easier it will likely be to adjust to the unfamiliar context that is Bowdoin. Think about your life up until now: the vast majority of it has been spent in schools. Ahead looms the prospect of four years of college and possibly many more years of post-graduate study. Even if it is just for a year, taking a break now greatly reduces your chances of becoming disillusioned with higher education by the time senior year rolls around. And at the worst, you'll be a year older than your peers.
Taking a gap year is no reflection on a student's intelligence or ability to do college-level work. It may just be that they've been living in the same town all of their lives and want to see another part of the world, or are really excited about something to the point of distraction. While a gap year is a "year off" from formal learning, it should not be seen as an opportunity to check out intellectually. If anything, it will afford you the chance to figure out how to make the best use of your time at Bowdoin in a way that many of your peers will envy. Should you accept the College's offer of admission, your spot isn't going anywhere; consider deferring for a year with the knowledge that our admissions office will fully support you. At the very least, you'll have quite a story to tell your first year roommates.
The editorial represents the majority view of the Bowdoin Orient's editorial board, which is comprised of Nick Daniels, Carlo Davis, Sam Frizell, Linda Kinstler, and Zoe Lescaze.