Published June 1, 2022
BY AINSLEY HENDERSON
After graduating from Carmel High School, many members of the Class of 2022 will take the conventional post-high school route to college in the fall, but a few will be stepping off the beaten path by traveling to Costa Rica, staying in Japan or living as an au pair in Paris.
“I chose to do this because I know I can’t decide on the investment that is college quite yet,” says senior Chloe Gladstone, who plans to homestay on organic farms in Japan and New Zealand. “I have a lot to do before I settle anywhere.”
Come fall 2023, Gladstone will be traveling across the globe with the help of Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, an organization that helps to promote cultural and educational exchanges around the world. Gladstone’s father was born in Okinawa, Japan, and her grandmother lived there for a segment of her childhood, which has prompted Gladstone to head somewhere where she has familial roots and connections.
Gladstone hasn’t yet reached out to a host family, but plans to take on a form of work that suits her. When the WWOOF program ends, Gladstone will be returning to Carmel and attending Monterey Peninsula College in the spring and summer of 2023.
After finishing her senior year, CHS senior Olivea Wood is heading to Costa Rica to study social problems and special education as part of an academic program, Verto Education, which aims to allow students to travel and still graduate college in a four year timespan.
“I’m excited because it’ll be really interesting learning about social problems in a country still under development,” Wood says.
After her time abroad, Wood plans to transfer to a four-year university with the end goal of becoming a special education teacher with a focus on the mild to moderate portions of the spectrum.
“It was the first path that really seemed like a good fit for me,” Wood explains. “Their idea is to take these freshmen and expose them to culture and give them a chance to truly find out what they want to do.”
While Gladstone and Wood attend educational programs around the world, senior Olivia Shipnuck is planning to serve as an au pair for a host family in France. Before leaving, she’s taking an introductory French language course at Monterey Peninsula College to prepare.
“I’ll live with the family,” Shipnuck says. “It’s free room and board, it’s free meals, and basically I’m a nanny to their kids.”
Similar to others taking a gap year, Shipnuck simply wants more time to figure out what she plans to do with her life. After the year in France, she’s considering heading to college but wonders if her love for travel and a desire to see the world will supersede that option, leading her to take more than a single year off of her education.
“My grandmother always told me how important it was to see the world and so I just felt kind of inspired to just take a year off and do that,” Shipnuck explains. “The hope is to go back to school after a year but my parents and everyone is telling me that you’re going to fall in love with France and you’re just gonna keep traveling the world.”
Across the English Channel from Shipnuck, senior Emie McAthie will be heading to Oxford, England, to attend a 14-week program through St. Clare’s College, an independent co-educational school, which will allow her to take a gap year and earn college credit simultaneously.
“I chose this, honestly, because I didn’t get accepted into any of the schools I applied to,” McAthie says. “It was a blessing in disguise though, as this opportunity will be far more beneficial for my well-being and goals.”
McAthie’s desire to leave Carmel fueled her decision, and her year in England will be funded by both her parents, who are eager to see her travel, and herself, from money she’s saved.
When she returns from England, McAthie plans to reapply to universities in the United States and either work full time or take courses at Monterey Peninsula College like many of her peers.
While college continues to be the route taken by most CHS graduates, some are stepping away, stretching their wings and taking unconventional roads in an effort to discover themselves.