Annie stewart '11As many MPA Alumni are choosing a gap year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Alumni Board Member, Annie Stewart ’11 shares her thoughts and experiences. We want to hear your story! Contact to let us know your plans for the upcoming school year and to share your insights on gap years, navigating a new school during these challenging times, or other topics.

I started my St. Olaf career as a double major in biology and environmental studies with the intent of going to medical school. This past spring I completed a master’s degree in elementary education. Looking back, I wish I would have gotten a fine arts degree.

You know what I would have benefitted from? A gap year.

There are lots of reasons why students take a gap year between high school and college. I never knew that was actual option for me, and I didn’t know anyone else who was taking one. Once I got to St. Olaf I met dozens of people who had taken gap years. All of them seemed to know what they wanted out of their college experience, they were confident in themselves, and they had a strong sense of purpose. I changed my major 3 times as a undergraduate, now I wonder what I could have figured out about my goals and interests had I taken a gap year–before paying for 16 credits of pre-med classes. There is no guarantee that a gap year will give you clarity or all of the answers, but if your gut is telling you that a gap year could be right for you, listen.

MPA and the Alumni Association is here to support you in this decision and can connect you with opportunities, alumni, and help you find the right gap year program.

Contact Lisa Pederson to start a conversation about gap years.

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