By Matthew Shepherd, ’19

Following graduation, a majority of seniors decide to continue their educational career and proceed to college in order to earn a degree. Some seniors decide to forgo the usual educational pathway, instead choosing an approach that seems beneficial to them individually. This can manifest itself in, among other options, enlistment in military services or in a so-called gap year.

Senior Joe Schwartz has decided to enter into the Navy following graduation. Following basic training, Schwartz will begin to specialize his military duties through training camp.

“I’m going to be an engineer, specifically a missile technician. That means I’ll be wiring missiles, and programming them to make sure they get to their destination,” Schwartz said

A student who proceeds to college usually gets a similar amount of break time as they did in high school, including summer and winter vacations, those who decide to enlist face a very different circumstance.

“Right off the bat, it’s 15 months of my time straight, which means no coming home, which is going to be a lot especially coming right out of high school. I go to boot camp for two months, and then I go to training school for 13,” Schwartz said.

While Schwartz always had an inclination towards joining the military, there were many factors which strengthened his convictions about enlisting and which helped him to do so.

“I’ve been in a pre-enlistment program called the Sea Cadets for four years, in order to train to join the military,” Schwartz said.

While an avid supporter of the military, Schwartz acknowledges that the field isn’t appropriate for everybody.

“I’m a strong believer in the fact that the military is not for everybody, but for the people it is for, it’s really for them,” Schwartz said.

That being said, if someone were to think about joining right out of high school, Schwartz recommends doing so.

“There are a lot of different options in the military, and each branch has its own unique sets of opportunities. It’s a great way to get job experience and it provides an opportunity to experience the real world,” Schwartz said.

In contrast to the strict regimen of training that comes with enlistment is the gap year. As the name suggests, a gap year is a year-long period in between high school and college, where recently graduated seniors are free to explore themselves and the world, both near and far.

Senior Zoe Pappas will be taking the opportunity to take a gap year next year. While a gap year can range in meaning from person to person, Pappas’ version entails helping people in faraway places.

“My family has lived in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for seven or eight years. As they’ve been there, they’ve developed and learned about the culture. Basically, I will be tasting a little bit of everything until I find a couple things I enjoy. For example, I’ll be volunteering at the school that my cousins go to,” Pappas said.

A gap year gives students an opportunity to broaden their horizons, giving them a view outside of the “UA bubble.” Pappas is expecting, and even anticipating, this change and how it will expand her view of the world.

“Being in Upper Arlington… we’re in a bubble. The fact that I get the opportunity to go and experience something like this, it’s like night and day. You’d never see or feel this way anywhere else,” Pappas said.

A lack of schooling does not mean that Pappas will be able to do whatever she likes for the entire year. She describes how she will still have a structure to her daily life, which allows for her to better help guide her experience throughout the year.

“There will be a structure to what I’m doing, but it’s more of a learning experience than anything. I really hope that this will be an eye-opener to what I want to do in the future,” Pappas said.

Both Schwartz and Pappas agree that no matter whichever path students choose to follow after graduation, it should be one that seems purposeful and fulfilling to that individual person.