Dear Class of 2018

by Trevor, Tufts 1+4 Participant

I was stuck under an endless rainy cloud, with no idea of the intentions for my education.

In high school, I was rarely learning lessons applicable to my future. I was memorizing information, not retaining it. I felt like I learned more about how to study the structure of the standardized mess rather than the proper why I study…
Because of this learning environment, I began to lose purpose for education.
Instead of learning for the sake of learning, I began to focus heavily on the results–the grades, the score. I became obsessed with perfection and in the midst of time packing up and moving away, I seemed to lose all direction.

And after spending hundreds of hours crafting essays of perfection, taking entrance tests that the system deems to measure “college readiness,” and obtaining the spotless transcript, I chose to step back and take a risk on the bridge year.

That spontaneous decision led me here today; to a foreign country where I don’t even know the language. Yet, I would rather be in another country that I know nothing about than to continue through a system that depletes my love for learning.

In Brazil, I learn new things every day. Every hour sometimes. And although I may not be learning how to memorize the oxidation reagents of carbonyl or the formula for solids of revolution, I’m learning equally as impressive things. I’ve learned how to communicate without words, how other nationalities perceive America, the importance and perplexity of language, how to make a metaphor for the bridge year literally out of anything, why it’s essential to understand various cultures, and how to keep calm with clever, but malicious, Capuchin monkeys.

So this is for you, class of 2018, and the generations that follow you. If you are entering the college application process, listen closely: you are not alone in this daunting process. Every other class before you has embarked on the same journey. So, if you’re anything like me and find yourself constantly frustrated with the system or you wish to divert the path of normality, maybe consider taking time to travel to a place you never thought you would. Take time to meet new people, expand your horizons, learn a new language, and develop a fresh lens.

I know the decisions you are about to make are going to be hard ones, but those are the most fun. I regret nothing about my decision, even if I had to choose between where I should be and where I wanted to be.

Yeah, Brazil is a crazy mess for me and I am constantly confused; however, I am developing more and more direction each day. I’ve only been in Brazil for a month now and I have already recognized that this eight month journey is a test like no other.
A test that shreds your expectations in a beneficial way.
A test that gives you a dose of life readiness, which is way more measurable than college readiness.

And the first question for you is not why take a bridge year, but why not?

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