Emily Rifkin’s plans for the fall changed dramatically in just the past month.
The recent graduate was hoping to take a gap year and then attend Oberlin College in 2012.
“I wanted a break from academics for a while and was hoping to perform volunteer work in a developing nation, possibly teaching English in the western part of Africa,” she said, explaining that’s a part of the continent where the people speak French and she wanted to improve her skills in the language.
In addition, Rifkin just didn’t feel ready to go to college right away.
“I wanted a rest from the stress of studying and the college search,” she said.
But, without a solid plan, Rifkin was having difficulty arranging precisely what she would do in her gap year.
But all those indecisive thoughts vanished this month.
In early June, she found out she was accepted off the wait list at small Carleton College.
Now Rifkin is very much looking forward to attending the Minnesota school this fall.
“I loved it,” she said about her visit to the campus this year. “It had a different look and feel from the northeast. Everyone I met was so friendly.”
And, Rifkin admitted, she’s a bit comforted by the fact that Carleton does not accommodate gap years for incoming freshmen.
“I’m a little disappointed but relieved I don’t have to attend to the myriad of details of planning,” she said.
Alternate travel plans
Although she isn’t totally sure of the major she will pursue, Rifkin is interested in studying French and international relations.
It’s possible, she said, that she might like to pursue a career in international development some day.
“That would be a good combination of my interests – to see the world and continue the community service I’ve done in the Belmont school system since sixth grade.”
And she’s quite interested in a program Carleton offers through its French department. A professor, originally from Mali, Africa, teaches a course involving French and Mali and then students in the class take a half-year trip there.
“That’s a good compromise,” Rifkin said in reference to not having a gap year. “It will be interesting and so much easier to have things laid out for me.
Long, but good, experience at BHS
Rifkin feels she was very well prepared academically at the high school, although it was “a haul” to get through her studies.
She was a bit disappointed, however, that she didn’t have many options for courses until her senior year.
“We had to take survey courses for most of our time at the high school that weren’t specific enough to focus on the topic or catch my full interest,” Rifkin said.
She described her experience at BHS as being among a “very driven student body” and feels many of her classmates were more motivated by grades than intellectual curiosity.
But Rifkin still found a lot of enjoyment as a BHS student.
“Being on the cross-country team was a good experience,” she said. “I’m not generally athletic and initially participated for the sports requirement and then started to love it.”
As time went on – from her freshman to senior year – Rifkin said she greatly enjoyed running, became one of the captains this year and liked her teammates as well as their coach, Brian Dunn.
She also liked performing community service and won a Silver Presidential Award for performing 150 hours this year.
“I appreciate the requirement that engrained in us a sense of community and helping others,” Rifkin said.
Rifkin is glad she has four years of college ahead of her before being “launched into the world.”
She said she picked a small college (approximately 2,000 students) for a more “nurturing” environment.
“I’m a bit concerned about the economy and getting a job when I graduate,” Rifkin said. “Getting a summer job has been hard enough.”