Fred A. Hargadon - (former Dean of Admissions, Princeton University)
"...as someone once reminded me, and as I now remind each incoming class at Princeton, 'the person each of you will spend most of the rest of your life with is yourself, and therefore you owe it to yourself to use your college years to become as interesting a companion as possible.' But I am also convinced that one's college education is greatly enhanced by the more maturity, experience, and perspective a student can bring to it. Alas, it strikes me that these three traits are the very ones that are most difficult for most young people to come by given the lock-step nature that currently characterizes such a large part of the school-to-college process...Indeed, of all the enthusiastic letters I send to students in one year, none are more enthusiastic than those I send in response to students requesting to defer their entrance to college."
Anonymous Quotes from Gap Year surveys:
"I got better at pushing myself outside my comfort zone and engaging actively with unfamiliar situations. I also learned a lot about how people interact, by observing the children at my school and by trial and error in the classroom: experimenting to find out what worked and what didn’t in terms of creating a constructive, engaging learning environment."
"I gained so much independence it is unbelievable. I have become a much stronger and assertive person and at the same time…I feel like I have become more compassionate and empathetic."
"I think the quality I most developed during my gap year was an ability to accept and appreciate things as they were, thinking analytically about them without criticizing or wishing them different. I learned to live in the present and to go with the flow, letting great things happen and appreciating every event, no matter how small."
"My gap year has really made me realize how much more there is to learn about how the world works by interacting with it and seeing processes in action, rather than merely reading about them remotely. I learned…about complicated systems, considered them from varied perspectives, and questioned assumptions I didn’t even realize I had. It’s made me aware of how much learning happens through experiential means, and I am determined to make the most of all the different avenues for learning here at college. It’s also made me even more astutely aware of what a privilege it is for me to get to go to college like this, and have the luxury of study. I’m motivated to get as much as I can out of my classes and my time here, so I can be better prepared to share it with more people in the world who haven’t had the same opportunities I have."
"Though I already knew where I would be going to college when I took my gap year, the experienced encouraged me to take a more diverse range of classes and helped to make dorm life more relaxing. As a result of my gap year I feel I was better able to meet people, life with strangers, and manage my time."
"It was an awakening. I am thankful every day that I took a gap year. I was ready for college; I could have gone straight from high school and I would have done just fine. But my life has been so enriched by the experience, and so many doors are opened everywhere I go simply by the change in perspective my gap year has given me. My friends who haven’t taken a gap year look around and see only college, classes, internships, resumes… I look around and see the entire world waiting for me. Everybody should take a gap year."
"I’m really glad I took a gap year, not just because I had amazing experiences, but because I feel like it gave me a better perspective going into college, prepared me for living away from home, trying new things I might not be comfortable with, and learning from every experience no matter how successful the outcome."
I am so happy with my decision to take a gap year. When I graduated high school I was burnt out, and didn’t have the grades to get into my college of choice. Even if I had gotten into that college, if I had gone right away, I believe my value of education would still have been low and I would have gotten bad grades. Instead I was so excited to start college a year later, and had so much more motivation to study hard and truly valued my education. I believe that more students should participate in a gap year."
Student, Hannah N.
"TBB exceeded my expectations... I found a community in which I can always be myself, one where I am able to be genuine and find support as well as people who will constantly inspire and challenge me. I gained a global perspective and an understanding of what I’m really deeply passionate about."
Parent, Betsy B.
"After TBB, Lucy went Lucy went on to her freshman year of college and took classes that were meaningful to her, not just classes that filled a requirement. She finished the year with all A’s and more importantly, she was more engaged with her college classroom experience because of the time spent traveling with TBB. Ultimately, her college experience is more valuable as a result of the gap year with TBB."
Parent, Stephanie B.
"Emily came home questioning many assumptions she’d had, with memories of faces of people she met who made abstract statistics a reality."
Student, Alexandra C.
"...The intensity of the program, whether intellectually, or physically, or emotionally, was the catalyst to my growth as a human being and a deeper understanding of myself. This led to changes in my future plans that…help me grow and achieve to my full potential in all aspects of life."
Parent, Judy H.
"The combination of seeing and living in other cultures along with the guided readings and mentoring from the Program Leaders really helped Lauren to begin thinking what direction she would go in college. She felt she was more directed and purposeful in selecting classes that would be meaningful to her."
Student, Alexandra C.
"It really is the trip of a lifetime. These are the skills and perspectives that people take years to learn, if ever…I wouldn’t be the same person without TBB."
"Thank You!!!!! I wish he could do it all over again, but would not change a thing about how it happened! He learned so much about himself, dealing with unexpected problems, figuring out how to get along with people and keeping an open heart. We are forever grateful as a family."
"Two different children, two different groups, two different leadership teams, one consensus; Carpe Diem exceeded their expectations and enriched them in ways they had not imagined. As parents we were so impressed by the depth and breadth of their experience and the obvious joy, service and gratitude that was a constant component."
"This program provides a wonderful opportunity for the student who is looking for an alternative to just another year in college. My son, Derek, learned considerably more about himself, other cultures, languages, & independent travel in the past year than I could possibly imagine. He is now more focused & passionate about what is important to him. This has been the best experience of his life!"
"Our son's adventure with Carpe Diem's Latitudes program far exceeded our expectations. We knew he would have a great time traveling and meeting new people while taking a year off between high school and college, but what we didn't know was how much his experiences would enrich him on a deeply personal level. This program is not a six-month vacation; it is so much more. We highly recommend Carpe Diem to all of our friends, family and anyone wanting give their child a unique opportunity to see some of the world and, maybe more importantly, see themselves in a new way."
"Throughout the last 10 years of my life, I have had an unyielding and persistent urge to travel. I believe this stems from my desire to know myself more and explore the possibilities that I knew life contained, but hadn't yet discovered for myself. My Latitudes Year was exactly what I was looking for... exactly what I needed. I cannot say, definitively, when or what the turning point was for me, but I have never felt more enthusiastic, prepared or motivated for the future that lies ahead. I worked in the Amazon cutting down banana trees, ate Colombian street food, danced on rooftops with new (now lifetime) friends, learned Spanish well enough to be able to develop relationships entirely in another language, adopted the practice of Yoga into my daily life (and have never felt better...), participated in traditional, Amazonian medicine ceremonies and learned to cook incredible vegetarian food... and, in the process, I have gained more confidence and clarity than I could have ever imagined."
"Carpe is an amazing program and I am forever grateful for this opportunity. The leaders especially are such an important part of the travel experience and it wouldn't be the same without the special Carpe essence."
"It's too great of an experience to try to summarize in a tiny little sound bite. For me, the trip forced me to question the limits I had set for myself - and to push those limits. It also gave me perspective on cultures that are different from my own while simultaneously sharing so many similarities. Given my academics research interests, I think it's clear to see that my experience with Carpe Diem has had an extensive and long-lasting impact on who I am."
"My experience with Carpe Diem was a turning point in my life. I couldn't even begin to imagine the person I'd be today if not for that experience. Some changes in myself were instant, and others took more time to develop; all in all I am still growing in a positive direction from that point onward. I was able to realize who I am and what I want out of life, and most importantly, the confidence to make steps in the right directions."
"This is such a beautiful chance to grow and learn with a traveling community while interacting and with the wide world around you. You will change, learn, laugh, and grow while experience some of the most beautiful places and people the world has to offer."
"This was a learning experience that, as parents, we were so pleased to find. The experiences Max had on this trip have changed his views about people, work, history, communities, and the impact we can have on others. When our son first showed us the PD website, I couldn't imagine sending him so far from home - with complete strangers but Pacific Discovery really provided him the support and social network he needed to feel independent and safe in his travels. Max returned home with a greater sense of confidence and independence as he had opportunities to experience new adventures and share experiences with his friends and fellow travelers. He learned so much about the culture, history and lifestyle of the people and communities in Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos. Living abroad really expanded his view of the world and respect for others, as well as gave him a sense of independence and competence that would be impossible to duplicate in an educational or more familiar setting."
"Each day was full of new experiences, adventures and learning opportunities. They traveled by boat, kayak, train, plane and foot across SE Asia. The group learned to scuba dive, rock climb, hike/trek, build structures, trade in local markets, exchange money, cook, meditate, care for elephants and appreciate the history and culture of the people they stayed with. This is the kind of experience that changes the life view of young adults and allows them to really open up and appreciate people and traditions from cultures different from their own. I believe these experiences can lead to greater respect for others and help to build peace among nations. I highly recommend it."
"Lily learned so much from the semester in Southeast Asia that I barely know where to begin. Before this trip my daughter had only lived on ten acres in the rural countryside, as an only child. In Southeast Asia, she bonded with 13 other young adults in ways that would have not been possible in the U.S. In addition, my daughter gained a taste of the greater diversity and sophistication of her peer group beyond her home in rural Grass Valley, something she will expand on in college. Lily also gained great confidence in herself by learning to navigate the streets of Hanoi, Saigon and Phnom Penh both alone, and in small groups, both during the day and in the evenings. Southeast Asian culture is more respectful toward women than our own American culture such that Lily felt even safer walking the streets alone, in Vietnam, than on the street of U.S. cities. As a person who tends to worry, Lily learned the Southeast Asian life skill of not sweating the small things in life. In my view this is one of life's most important lessons. Lastly, Lily was able to share her passion for art, architecture, and politics with her peers while they shared their passions for music, dance, humor and fun with her. This trip was an experience of a lifetime that Lily will always treasure."
"I am so thankful that my first big trip was with Pacific Discovery, it taught me to be responsible about traveling and the impact we all leave everywhere we go, I really think it will shape the way I travel my whole life. I not only saw, felt, tasted and heard things I could never imagine, I learned about the places we visited, along with how my visit affected those parts of the world. I gained a broader world view and was forced to challenge myself in ways I would not have done by myself. I have come back changed and excited to use what I have learned and experienced in the rest of my life. There were moments while traveling though Thailand, Lao, Vietnam and Cambodia that were so spectacular and fleeting that I was almost sad to see them pass me by because I knew I would spend a lifetime remembering that exact moment, which could never be replicated. It was a perfect trip that provided me with experiences to savor my whole life."
"I was looking to step out of my comfort zone and put my own life into perspective, to learn more about myself, my culture, and my goals. Pacific Discovery provided the perfect setting and opportunity to do this. The program was a perfect balance of free/introspective time, and more structured group time. Having 13 other people to share the memories with and put my experiences in a group perspective was truly valuable. I have been, and will continue keeping in close touch with my trip mates. I feel lucky to have gone deeper than the level of 'tourist' to these countries, into a much more interactive and cultural immersion role. My most intense memories are those of interacting with locals, whether at home stays, at street food stands, or at local bars. By living another culture's way of life for over two months, I now return to America with a more holistic view of my own culture, and am more conscious about my life choices."
"You will come back inspired in ways you never thought possible. I came back inspired about life. The people you meet will share stories and experiences that change the way you think about the world. I became inspired to travel and see for myself the diversity of life that exists on the other side of the planet. I was sick of reading in textbooks and listening to lectures - to really gain knowledge and understanding of something you have to experience it firsthand. Secondly, I can guarantee you will be challenged. I was challenged socially, mentally, physically, spiritually and came back a much happier, stronger person because of it. I have some of the best memories of my life on that trip and I am fortunate enough to have shared them with incredible group-mates. For once in my life, I threw away logic, emptied out my savings account and did the one thing in my life I really wanted to do. I have now realized that anything is possible. You just have to open your mind and go after your dreams. The best of luck to all of you."
"When she returned home, a wonderful amount of growth was obvious to us. There was a greater openness to people, an greater awareness of the environment and her ability to make a positive impact on it, and a confidence in her own abilities that grew from the challenges she chose to experience and those inherent in the program. We can't say enough good about Pacific Discovery. Excellent communication, planning, and responsiveness from program directors; very knowledgeable, capable, and fun group leader. Best of all, we saw our daughter's childhood smile return to her face."