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My Daughter Is Taking A Gap Year (Try Saying that At a Cocktail Party)

This Teen Is Taking A Year Off Before College

“My daughter has decided not to go to college this year.”

In my world, these words are HUGE. In my world, people look at me like I’m speaking a different language. But first, some background information.

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Like many three-year-old girls, my daughter declared that when she grew up she was going to be a ballerina. Sure, let’s do this. She started taking one ballet class a week. One turned to two. Then three. Then 15. I don’t remember how we got to that point, but there we were. The ballet thing was no longer just a hobby or an extracurricular activity, it had become who she was. Other than school, ballet became her first priority. In order to support her, we had to make it ours also. Family vacations, doctor’s appointments, etc., were all worked around her ballet schedule. She had no problems giving up friends’ birthday parties, school trips, outings at the mall for her ballet.

When I told people that my daughter was a ballet dancer, I began to hear stories about other dancers and artists. I remember one young woman, in particular, who told me: “I wanted to dance but my parents didn’t want me to, so they applied to colleges for me and then made me choose one.” This was said with tears in her eyes. And another who said: “I got into (insert prestigious name here) for acting but my parents wouldn’t let me go.” More tears.

What were we going to do? My husband and I discussed this for years as she became more serious and devoted to her dancing. We decided that we would support her no matter what she decided. Her talent, dedication, and commitment proved that she meant business.

Last fall she made the decision to go to college and double major in ballet and something else (to be decided at a later date). She filled out her applications and then started the audition process. She was admitted into a great school with a great dance program and she was ready to start the next chapter of her life.


Courtesy of the Cleveland Ballet.

A New Option: Taking A Gap Year After High School

Then my daughter was offered a one-year contract to dance with a newly formed ballet company in our area. She couldn’t go away to school—which was four hours away—and dance for this company at the same time. She asked for our opinion. We told her that college would always be there. She could always take a gap year before college and go to school later, not necessarily as a traditional student. She had a chance to do what she had always dreamed of doing. We didn’t want her to have any regrets later. She decided to defer her enrollment for one year and can start in the fall.

This has been a difficult transition since all her friends have gone off to college. In our world nearly everyone goes to college. My daughter is dancing and working part time and thinking about taking on-line courses to keep busy. We hope she will go to college one day after this gap year, just not this year. Maybe not even next year. We’re okay with that. In the words of a dear friend, she’s “livin’ the dream.”

Eca Paz Taylor is the circulation expert for Your Teen

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