One of the unique or not-very-common steps we took during our high school years was deciding on taking a gap year for our eldest daughter, Arielle. Arielle took a gap year before she finally entered college. She graduated April 2015 and didn’t go to college right away in Aug/Sept 2015. Instead, she made 2015 to August 2016 her gap year.

After a long process of evaluation and much prayer (along with another homeschool friend whose son was Arielle’s batchmate), we decided to take a gap year even if it was not recommended to us by The Master’s Academy, our homeschool provider.  We were told that Arielle might not get accepted in 2016 because colleges will have no freshman batch entering the universities all because of the K12 program. We did our own research and legwork. We went to U.P., Ateneo, and UA & P, and made an online inquiry with DLSU and asked the different admission offices if they will accept our daughter and our friend’s son after taking a gap year. We just clarified what the requirements were and it was quite a relief to know that there would be no problem at all if they went on a gap year.

Why did we take a gap year? Because we were not rushing. Mike and I were not rushing. Arielle felt she needed more time before going to college. If she didn’t take a gap year, she would be graduating college at the age of 20. We considered it too young for her to be accepted and employed by a company, if there would be a company who would hire her at that age. Also, knowing what she really wanted to take up in college and being prepared for it is better than changing courses along the way and not knowing what to do with her life! That’s even going to be a waste of time and money and stressful for both the child and the parents. We DISCUSSED ALL THESE with Arielle. There was a lot of talking, questioning, reflecting, processing, decision-making…all to let her roots grow and flex/strengthen/tone up her wings.

During her gap year, Arielle did internships (w/ Martine de Luna and Flow Surf Yoga, mainly doing graphic designs, posters). It gave her the experience of how it was to work and with deadlines. She also took basic animation workshop at Toon City Academy which made her experience how it really is to work in the animation industry and learn the basic skills. (God really works in mysterious ways. I met Roselle Rodrigo-Gonzales in one of my art playdates, who happen to be the TCA Administrator!) More importantly, she was able to prepare for her college application at SCAD: art portfolio with 20 pieces of her best traditional and digital artwork, her resume, two 500-word essay (which for me was the toughest and most brain-draining part of coaching her!). We were also able to seek professional help on how to undergo her interview with SCAD. It was totally NOT how the real interview went but it was a good experience to go through.

The gap year also gave us time to learn life skills on living independently: cooking, kitchen management, menu planning, food preparation and storage, what to do with leftovers, house chores, etc, etc! (Believe me on those etc’s…Whatever I was doing, I taught them to Arielle and gave her words of wisdom and lots of reminders!)

Back to the “default system” I mentioned in my earlier post on SOCIALIZING: Is breakfast (or lunch or dinner) always ready at your dining table? One of or the VERY FIRST “Duh?” comment we received on Arielle’s moving in day was when we were waiting for our turn at the elevator with all her pieces of luggage and a bag of rice that Mike bought last minute before moving in.  A parent saw it and said, “You’re going to cook???” SECOND, her male friends called her up one time asking her to teach them how to cook rice…in a rice cooker. Her flatmates also didn’t know how to cook rice in the rice cooker nor did they know how to use the coffeemaker…YET.  So, teaching her the life skill of cooking and other kitchen skills was one of the things I’m glad we had the time and opportunity to learn during her gap year before going to college.  These millennials are lucky to have the technology literally at their fingertips, they can just FaceTime their parents or whoever when they need a live tutorial session on how to cook real food in their dorm kitchen instead of eating instant food all the time!

Moving on to RESUMES. One important tip I’d like to share is start documenting/recording/noting down the experiences that your child had in high school and maybe as far back as grade school, if the experience shows your child’s growth and passion in an acitvity.  Do it as you go and not only when you are about to submit an application to a certain university. It would be more difficult that way. So the EXPERIENCING I talked about earlier, the resume is where they will be put into good use, document-wise.

Also, do a skills inventory of your child. Make a list. What computer programs does he/she know? Can he/she paint? Do graphic design? Does he/she know Photoshop? Can she make videos and edit videos? How about coding?

 

 

The resume that Arielle designed and submitted to SCAD (showing her varied experiences and skills and not just all art-related)

The resume that Arielle designed and submitted to SCAD (showing her varied experiences and skills and not just all art-related)

 

During her preparation for her scholarship interview, SCAD also recommended that Arielle have her biz cards ready. She decided to use her nickname

During her preparation for her scholarship interview, SCAD also recommended that Arielle have her biz cards ready. She decided to use her nickname “Arielle” instead to make it not sound and look too formal.  After all, art is out-of-the-box and goes “outside the lines”.

 

Overall, our gap year was a good preparation time for college. Emotionally, mentally, psychologically, financially, relationship-wise.  It was definitely one of the highlights of our homeschooling journey which truly made Arielle’s education intentional and personalized.

 


 

This is going to be a short post.  Just to share with you that we are done and ready to submit to SCAD-HK Arielle’s best artworks (19 to upload, maximum of 20), resume, and two 500-word essays for two more scholarship applications.

This is what we’ve been working on since September 2015 and after 5 months of detailed and intentional planning, brainstorming, thoughts and ideas processing, revisions, edits, improvements that felt endless, we’re ready to submit everything we’ve done.  Deadline given to us was February 28, 2016 in preparation for Arielle’s March 3 interview and I feel it would be better to submit everything a few days early and not do it last-minute.

I must say that this whole process was INTENSE.  I decided to throw Arielle a few questions  and check on how she feels about this.

 1.  So, which is the most difficult part in what you did?

Compiling all the info in the resume!

2.   How about doing your artworks?  How did you find it?

It wasn’t that bad.

3.  Even if you had to produce at least 10 and a maximum of 20?

I think the hard part is choosing which ones to let go and which ones to present and submit.

4.  How about writing the essays?  How was it for you?

What’s tough was trying to get your thoughts across but you have a 500 word-count to keep in mind.

5.  Which did you find more difficult, the resume or the essay?

Resume

 

I’m actually surprised with her answers here. If you were to ask me, it was the essays that were the toughest to do with her since I had to make sure that it would be her words, not mine, that will be put in there and my role was really just to help her process, organize, articulate, and bring out her voice on the essay topic on paper.  ESSAY WRITING WAS BRAIN-DRAINING FOR ME!  I also thought that she would also show some difficulty in coming up with artworks since she had to come up with as much artworks and show her BEST ONES, but apparently, it was easy-peasy for her.  It just goes to show that if you really like what you’re doing, then it wouldn’t be considered as “work” for you.

That’s the latest update on our college application, more of scholarship application. The next big day will be next Thursday, March 3!  Please continue to pray with and for us?  I will share with you news from Arielle’s interview day as soon as it’s done…and I’m breathing 🙂

 

 


 

Last November 28, SCAD-HK held an Information Session at Hotel Intercon in Makati.  As the event name says, it was an afternoon intended to give interested students and parents information about the school, the application process, scholarship application, portfolio submission, and what one can get from a SCAD education.  Current SCAD students and an alumna were present and shared their personal experiences with SCAD, and a professor was also there to look at students’ portfolios and give feedback.  We, however, was invited by SCAD’s assistant director of admission in order for Arielle to have a mock interview, a sort of a practice round for the real interview for scholarship application which is still going to be sometime in March 2016.

But before that, I’d like to share that Arielle was already granted an Academic Honors Scholarship by SCAD based on the GPA reflected on her high school transcript of records.  We didn’t expect the email to come this soon because we thought that all scholarships will be granted in March next year.  We were VERY, VERY HAPPY, of course!  The scholarship amount will be a big help to us and can be alloted already for her living allowance. There is another college scholarship, however, that we can still go for: the Achievement Honors Scholarship.  This is now going to be based on her portfolio composed of her artworks, 500-word essay, resume and interview.

From the very first time we met up with SCAD’s assistant director of admission last Aug 31 until this November, Arielle focused her time and effort to build her portfolio by doing her artworks, writing and revising her essay (We ended up having 6-8 versions after asking friends for feedback), drafting and formatting her resume, making sure that we fit all her relevant info and experiences in just one page (That was tough to do!).  I also consulted a contact to professionally coach her on interview and presentation skills.  The coaching session was held first week of November which gave us enough time to improve what Arielle had tirelessly worked on and practice answering possible interview questions before the mock interview day.

How do I describe the two to three months period of working on a portfolio?  It was intense.  It was real skills building.  For Arielle, it involved a lot of time management, research and looking inside herself…who she is…what her style is…who her inspirations are…knowing who she really is, the gifts she has as given by God, and identifying her focus and goals in life.  To be real honest, it became stressful between the two of us but…it was rewarding at the end.  Arielle’s mock interview, lasting about 30 minutes, went well and the assistant director of admission was impressed.  From the impromptu interview last August to this mock interview, he saw Arielle bloomed and more confident.  She answered the questions with energy and passion which he liked very, very much!  It was apparently what he wanted to see in Arielle. With only a few things to improve on the presentation of her artworks, we are good to go for the real one in March 2016!

Arielle was very encouraged and high on adrenalin after her mock interview. She even told me that the quarterly portfolio review she did with her homeschool academic consultant all these years helped her a lot for this one. Although different because her homeschool portfolio reviews were academic in nature, she said that it was a good exercise and preparation for the real thing. Her hard work has already paid off.  With one scholarship already in the bag, we can still try and do our best to be granted another one.  Mike and I were straightforward in telling the assistant director of admission that we do need that scholarship.    If we can double the scholarship amount that was given to us, then that would really be a BIG HELP!  The assistant director told us that he cannot promise us anything but he said he will try to see how he can get more information on this year’s scholarship grants.

On a different note, the experiences shared by the current freshman and sophomore students (One was taking up Animation, the other, Sequential Arts, and the other, Fashion) and alumna (in Fashion and Masters in Luxury and Fashion Management) were very inspiring and encouraging.  Mike and I had the chance to chat with the current students and ask them questions, and they were all very helpful and accommodating.  I saw how confident they were and also saw how happy they were in their decision to study at SCAD.  It somehow gave me the comforting assurance that Arielle will be fine and will make it in that school.  Just what I needed!

Everything has been going really well so far with Arielle’s application at SCAD-HK and preparation for college. Taking a gap year has been doing Arielle good and is definitely worth it!  I am so thankful that God showed us this option and continues to guide as we tread along this path.

The pieces of advices I’d like to end this post with are:

  1.  Take a gap year if you feel that your child needs that break to discern what he really wants to pursue in college and later on in life.  Just because all of his or her friends will move up to college right after high school graduation, it doesn’t mean that you have to do what everybody else does.  Remember that this is the future of your child.  It’s his or her life, not yours…not his or her grandparents’…not his or her classmates’…not his or her friends’…not his or her neighbor’s.  Give him or her the chance and time to give his or her future more thought.
  2. Start discussing plans and options as early as, I would say, 7th Grade.  Explore opportunities and let your child try different experiences.  I believe that is the only way he or she would know what his or her interests are and what options are available for him or her.
  3. Be open to possibilities.  Do not limit yourself and your child’s dreams.  Dream BIG…Dream big WITH YOUR CHILD…Dream big WITH GOD!
  4. Learning these skills are important when applying at different colleges and universities:
  • public speaking skills
  • presentation skills
  • interview skills
  • portfolio-building/making
  • resume writing
  • essay/creative writing
  • time management

 

Lastly, pray fervently and without ceasing (I mean it!) and trust that God will make known to you and your child what he or she is uniquely designed to do.

 


 

I last shared with you the meeting we had with SCAD HK’s assistant director of admission, Danny Li. Going to that meeting totally unprepared and with a blank slate, Mike, Arielle, and I, however, went home with a list of things we need to do from that day until he comes back by end-November. Everything suddenly became clear and gave us directions.  The meeting turned out to be a college counseling session which I personally am really, really grateful for and appreciative of because if you were to ask me how we plan to do Arielle’s portfolio, essay, and resume, my ideas would fall short of what would be considered as an excellent portfolio worthy of scholarship.

So the next day after the meeting, Arielle and I immediately brainstormed and planned out for this portfolio-making.  I told her that we can’t afford to waste time because we have about 2 months to put together a good an excellent portfolio.

Scared, overwhelmed, not confident on this whole thing, I prayed and then slowly started to map out a strategy for this task.  With post-its, markers, pens, highlighters on hand, I guided Arielle through the planning process, listing down all the details I could think of at this stage of the process and setting target deadlines.  We cannot afford anymore not to have deadlines!

The scholarship application requires these:

(1) Personal artworks/creations

(2) Essay

(3) Resume

(4) Interview

Arielle has to do all these in order to apply for and be granted a scholarship.

 

This is how we plan to prepare for Arielle’s portfolio. It’s our action plan we have for now on how to actually start it and move to its execution afterwards.

The action plan is basically all about RESEARCH, KNOWING ONESELF, and EXPRESSING UNIQUELY ONE’S IDEAS and CREATIVITY.  This whole process is going to require a lot of thinking and it will teach the LIFE SKILL on PROJECT MANAGEMENT which will be a training ground for research, presentation, interview, and writing skills!

RESEARCH —

Arielle needs to research about SCAD: its history, mission and vision, values, campuses (maybe even down to the address and historical location in HK!), the directors, courses being offered, companies they tie up with, what makes SCAD different from other art schools, and other SCAD facts.  We gave ourselves a September 2 deadline just so we know what we need to accomplish first on our list.

Research on these two important skills:  presentation skills and interview skills.  When Arielle did a mock presentation and interview, one of the things he pointed out was the lack of eye contact.  Yes, Danny Li immediately pointed that out!  So, we need to learn how to do a powerful and effective presentation.  We need to learn how to capture the audience, close a presentation, and everything in between!  And watching TED-x videos is an assignment!

On interview skills, we need to read up on the do’s and don’t’s just like what we need to know on how to make an effective presentation.  DEADLINE:  September 3-4.

Research! Research! Research!

 

Next, Arielle needs to research on essay-writing, specifically for the purpose of college scholarship application with these prompts in mind:

  • What are your dreams and goals?
  • Why do you want to go to SCAD?
  • How will SCAD be able to help you achieve those dreams and goals?
  • Why should SCAD accept and grant you a scholarship?

 

Making her resume will basically be a review of everything she did throughout her homeschooling years:  her achievements, her projects, workshops she attended, volunteer work, internships,  etc.

DEADLINE for RESEARCH ON ESSAY-WRITING, RESUME-MAKING:  September 6-12, 2015.

Lastly, she also needs to do some research on how to design or make her own business card.  Yes, Danny pointed out that when you meet people, handing out your business card to them is the proper way to do it!  DEADLINE:  WILL BE DETERMINED as soon as her laptop has been serviced because she can’t toy around with ideas without the programs in her laptop.

 

Get to know yourself!

 

KNOWING ONESELF — 

On the actual portfolio-making side, I thought having a SKILLS INVENTORY would be a great idea!  I told Arielle to list down everything that she can do and from there, we hope to be able to generate ideas on how to execute her portfolio.

I really like this portion because it will give Arielle a chance to really do an introspection, get to know herself, her strengths, strengths that she is confident with, and even those that she is not so confident with.

EXPRESSING UNIQUELY ONE’S IDEAS AND CREATIVITY —

With a skills inventory, we hope to then be able to really showcase her CREATIVITY and a PORTFOLIO that will be DIFFERENT and REMEMBERED by her target audience.  DEADLINE:  October 31, 2015.  That would give us time to polish and fine-tune everything until her November 28 presentation.

Know your strengths and think out-of-the-box!

 

So many things to do in so little time, don’t you think?  This is the hurdle we are challenged to overcome as of the moment.  This is what I feel as another ultimate test of our homeschooling journey after high school graduation.

Let me end by saying this again:  Homeschooling Arielle is not over yet for me, apparently.