Junior Ricki Lane is taking an unconventional approach to high school by graduating a year ahead of her fellow juniors and joining an exciting gap year program, City Year, in San Jose, California. City Year is part of AmeriCorps, a national service program with an emphasis on providing education services to communities in need. As a member of the program, Ricki will be mentoring and tutoring students in an underprivileged school district.
Indian Post: Why did you decide to graduate a year early?
Ricki Lane: I knew that I had the opportunity to graduate early because I had taken a lot of classes ahead of time. I wanted to take advantage of my situation because I knew that if I was able to do something outside of school next year, it would be more of a valuable experience than having a schedule next year with a lot of study halls.
IP: When did you first think about the idea of graduating early and what was the process like?
RL: I started thinking about graduating early last January or February and I had to have a ton of meetings with my guidance counselor and it took a lot of organizing because I had to fit two English classes into my schedule, as well as a senior history class. I wasn’t sure if it was going to work until mid-summer.
IP: Were there any difficulties?
RL: The difficulties with graduating early were that I had to take six core classes, and none of them were electives, so it was a lot of homework. But honestly, I didn’t feel like I had much more work than my friends so that didn’t end up being a huge problem; it was just scary going into it.
IP: What was it like planning for a gap year while managing junior year?
RL: It was kind of tough because junior year is a lot of work. I also had a lot of meetings with my guidance counselor this year, as I was trying to come up with things I could do next year and learn about programs. I ended up finding the program City Year and I was like, “This is what I want to do.”
IP: Why did you choose City Year?
RL: Originally, I was considering doing something international, but the problem was that most of the programs that I wanted to do were eighteen or older, and I’m not going to be eighteen until January of 2018. A lot of those options were cut out, so I started looking at programs within the U.S. The reason I chose City Year is that for myself, it’s a cool opportunity to travel and to get a bigger perspective, and I also think it’s going to be a good opportunity to help others.
IP: Do you have any worries about going to California next year?
RL: My main concern about going to California next year is safety because it’ll be the first time I’m living on my own. It’s going to be very different, but I’m also kind of excited for some independence.
IP: What are your plans for after the gap year?
RL: After the gap year, I’m planning to apply to college.
IP: What will you miss about Unionville?
RL: The main thing I’m going to miss about Unionville is seeing my friends every day, and also that the school provided me with a lot of opportunities that probably wouldn’t be available at other schools.
IP: Do you have any advice for any students who want to take a gap year?
RL: Don’t feel pressured to apply to college the year you graduate—you can always wait until after your gap year because I think the longer you take, better your application will be, and the more certain you’ll be about which schools you want to go to. Then the year you graduate, just focus on the programs you want to apply to instead of colleges.
IP: What are you looking forward to in the coming year?
RL: Unionville is a pretty sheltered community and I haven’t been out of it that much, so I’m excited to go somewhere new, see new things and just get a valuable experience that will broaden my perspective before college.