The gap years – Many Island students opt to take time off between high school and post-secondary education

By Kassandra Gavin-Henry
Jan. 28, 2014

When Amy MacLennan graduated from Montague regional high school in 2013 she had no idea what she wanted to do, and she didn’t see college as an option.
MacLennan always knew she had an interest in the arts, but she wanted to take time to practice her skills, and narrow down exactly what area she wanted to focus on.
MacLennan said she’s found taking a year off after high school graduation, sometimes referred to as a gap year, has helped her focus on what her skills are and what she enjoys doing.
“If I went with what I originally wanted to do it would have been a waste of money.”
MacLennan said she originally wanted to become a 3D animator, but during her break from schooling she discovered a love for design.
“I’ve always had an interest in design, I like designing clothes and I always enjoyed home ec. classes in middle school.”
During her gap year she has been practising seamstressing with her grandmother, MacLennan said.
“I’ve been building a creative portfolio.”
MacLennan said she hopes to travel for a year or two and practise her skills before going to a fashion school.
“I’d like to eventually get a seamstress degree.”

Daniel Simmons, however, who graduated from Three Oaks high school in 2012, came about taking a gap year a little differently.
He started a program at UPEI that would have led him to a science degree.
Simmons said in high school he felt he had to choose between work, university and college and in the end he liked the idea of university the most.
“I wanted to get something better than a high school diploma to get a better job.”
Simmons said at the time he was thinking about taking engineering when he decided to get a science degree at UPEI, but realized mid term he didn’t enjoy sciences, and is now taking a gap year to work.
“I want to save money and hopefully decide what I want to do.”
Peggy McInnis, student’s account clerk at Holland College, said she finds a lot of high school students who don’t know what they want to do after graduating take the college Foundations program, which allows students to focus on what they want while working on enhancing their skills.
“A lot of these students weren’t really ready for the college, but once they get in here they love it.”
McInnis said she finds more mature students often come back to Holland College and take classes that lead to a full-time program and more job opportunities.
“A lot of people become tired of making less for the same job and our programs help.”
McInnis said Holland College offers career assessment inventory, which can help students settle on a career path by doing tests that will help them narrow down their interests.
“Students do the testing because they’re not quite sure what they want.”