When you are in junior high school, you can’t wait for senior high. Once you are in senior high, you rush to graduate and enter college. While in college, you want to complete your study soon so you could take your dream job and become independent.

Some of you may not follow the regular school timeline, but you run on the shorter track instead – 2 years in junior high and 2 years in senior high. Then you enter university at such early age. But sometimes, after moving from one stage to another, you ask yourself, “Did I miss something?” and you said, “I should have done that during my junior high. I should have done this during high school. I wish I could get back to school to do these and those.”

It is not your school timeline that’s too short. It is you who are too preoccupied with what comes next and forget to make the most of your present. You are too focused on finishing your school sooner. You are so busy to figure out how to get high scores in the national exam to get into your desired high school. You are so busy for your intensive preparation class to get into your dream university. You forget that you have more to explore outside the classroom.

If you can still maintain the balance between your academic and non-academic life, walking on your fast track will not be a problem. But if the fast track threatens your non-academic exploration, you better reconsider your action.

Some of your friends are aware of it. They see a lot of opportunities that only happen during school or college. They believe that those opportunities will help them to improve their academic and non-academic skills. They get involved in student organizations or take some extracurricular activities in arts, sports, and science. They prove that being active outside the classroom does not affect their academic life. They are still able to achieve good grades. They even make it to graduate on time and follow their school timeline accordingly.

However, there are those who take those opportunities to the next level. They sign up for programs which interrupt their school timeline. They sacrifice their term breaks. They even willingly graduate one year later than the rest of their fellow classmates. What they believe is the greater outcome they will obtain once completing the programs. They immerse themselves in the programs to take one step back for two step forward.

“What are the programs and what are the benefits they give?”

Student Exchange Program

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A student exchange program is an opportunity for secondary school (junior and senior high school) or college students to study abroad. It usually involves an agreement between partner schools or universities from different countries. The cost of this program will differ for each institution. It could be a self-funding or a fully-funded scholarship. The duration of an exchange program also varies. It may take two weeks, six months, to one year. Exchange students will live with a host family or in a university hostel or dorm.

An exchange program is a life-changing experience. During this program, you will have a chance to travel overseas, live in a new country, immerse in a new culture, learn a new language, and explore the world from a different standing point.

This program will transform you into a different person. You will find the meaning of not depending on others but yourself. Meeting new people from different backgrounds and communicating with different language will build your self-confidence and develop your skills to adapt to any type of circumstances.

Gap Year

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A gap year is a year break between high school and university. Someone may take a gap year to gain professional skills, learn new languages, participate in voluntary activities, travel places, or explore personal interests and passions.

The term gap year is still uncommon in Indonesia. But it has become very popular in the US and UK. Many high school graduates take a gap year to design their academic plan prior to entering college where they can learn skills related to their subject of interests. They apply for internships in certain industries to gain a complete experience about professional life to later project their career path in the future. This will also help them understand their potential on specific disciplines and avoid choosing wrong majors while enrolling in university.

Some students who struggle to fund their higher education take part-time jobs to collect some money during their gap year. There are also those who prefer to spend the gap year to broaden their global knowledge and sharpen their language skills by volunteering in certain causes across the world.

Compared with a student exchange program, gap year offers you more freedom in choosing and arranging what type of activity you are interested in. Gap year is also more challenging since you have to prepare everything by yourself. However, as the increasing popularity of taking a gap year after high school, you now can find so many institutions provide a variety of gap-year programs.

Experiential Study Tour

Photo by: Vooya

If student exchange programs and gap year consume a huge portion of your school timeline while you still don’t want to graduate separately from your classmates, signing up for an experiential study tour will be the best option for you. This program will give you a life-changing experience only in 10 days.

An experiential study tour provides hands-on workshops across multiple disciplines such as STEM, social science, arts, sports, and personal education. This program is most suitable for students in junior and senior high school who desire to discover their passions. By immersing in experiential learning activities, the students will understand what subjects or disciplines they are really good at. This will be a great help for them on deciding which major to choose for their higher education and in the long term, they could plan on what career path to take in the future.

It doesn’t mean that college students who have found out their true passion are not allowed to take this program. If they want to challenge themselves to learn new things outside their expertise, they should take this shot no matter what.

Messing up a little bit with your school timeline by experiencing one of those programs will not harm your future. Otherwise, you can leap higher than your friends who do not have the same experience. You will gain clearer sights of what path you are going to choose in the future and possess more added value skills within academic along with professional fields.



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