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"Gap Year" before Graduation

ausername8121ausername8121 0 replies1 discussions Forum Champion
So I'm a little confused.

I don't really know what I'm doing at Exeter. I've tried to pursue a passion there of building various machines, and the school's structure doesn't allow for me to follow along with my interests. On multiple occasions, the school has shut me down because they were hesitant about the projects with which I was trying to proceed, due to previous students trying and failing at said projects and to various safety concerns involving myself and the community. Due to the nature of the projects, and this being a liberal arts school, there just isn't the proper equipment around me to proceed. Admittedly, I did have a lack of follow through with some projects, like the motor bike and the hydrogen fuel cell I wanted to build. But even when trying to work with the system about the motor bike, they simply couldn't properly proceed with a student repairing a motor bike on campus due to the liability and safety issues at hand for them. And so, my building has been put on a standstill (I don't know if they'll even allow for my electric shopping cart project to proceed).

The school also simply doesn't have depth in the areas I'm trying to pursue. For Robotics, I've been teaching myself elementary probabilistic robotics. The instructor for the course I'm in doesn't allow for the use of anything but ROBOTC, and has the class geared towards intro students. Most of the algorithmic ideas we're going over involve really simple, one-shot solutions, and while that's great for students learning how to code, I just don't find that much gain from it, which is why I've been trying to teach myself SLAM algorithms and path finding algorithms on the side. But I don't want to have to study these topics on the side, under the sheets. And after this year, I've exhausted the courses on robotics and--to the bulk--engineering at this school. And when looking at my schedule for next year, I simply don't have anything more to fulfill than two terms of English and Religion. Those are courses I enjoy, but not courses that would cause me to want to stay for an entire year. I have one senior project concerning autonomous cars that *might* get approved. I've already taken all of the Computer Science I can here, and now the administration is hesitant to approve more field courses, simply due to the lack of available instructors. I can see myself taking Italian (2 terms), Modern Physics (1 term), and Advanced Calc BC and Linear Algebra. But that's not a reason to throw away a passion.

I don't know what to do. This system isn't working out for me, and I really want to pursue my passion a year earlier rather than a year later. I want to be in a place that will allow my passions to thrive. Which is why I'm wondering: why not?

Why not leave a year early? I had an internship at a lab at MIT (let's call it ML) during my sophomore summer under a grad student there, and it was the best time of my life. Being able to come into ML every day was amazing. I was around people who were on my wavelength, with similar passions and the ability to pursue those passions without restraint. I always return from MIT to Exeter sad to have to come back, because it feels like I'm leaving a community in which I belong.

Due to Friday classes, XC and cycling races on Saturdays, and most people not coming in over the weekend at ML, I don't really know if I could go over the weekends to conduct research. What I was planning was this:
Get a G.E.D.
Go off and conduct research at the ML for a year.
During that time, take OpencourseWare courses from MIT in English, Math, CS, and other subjects.
Discuss these topics with someone (I find that discussion is the most crucial part to learning; anyone can cram info, but few can discuss and understand that info well)
Become more social (I have a lot of friends, but I want to become a more...approachable person. I'm not strange, I just want to develop the ability to make many types of people smile and laugh).
Join some local sports teams, or even ask if I can run/ride with Exeter (I run XC and cycle)
Jam out on the uke (preferably with other people)
Apply to college

I just don't know how colleges would react to this. Would colleges frown upon someone who never completed high school? CS and engineering are *very* serious passions of mine. I have other interests; for example, I love reading Shakespeare and great literature as well as jamming out on the uke. However, I just feel hampered that I can't pursue a serious passion, and I don't know if Exeter is the right system for me. I know it's a huge risk, but it's also a large opportunity with huge payoffs.

I'm planning on applying to MIT as my top choice, with Berekely, Penn State, Bucknell, Harvey Mudd, and a lot of other colleges on my college list.
edited May 2013 in Non-Traditional Students
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