Most of us see our paths as pre-determined. Elementary School, then middle school, high school and then on to college. But others choose to go against the status quo, leading them to a year of learning and adventure. A gap year is generally considered to be a year after high school and before college that students take to explore their interests or decompress. Read on to hear the comments of several Palo Alto Unified School District alumni who chose to take a gap year.

Sam Kelley

Photo courtesy of Samuel Kelley.


“While traveling [in India], I was a complete stranger in most of the settings and it ended [up] being my greatest opportunity. It was an opportunity to be someone different every few days and to explore different viewpoints and perspectives.”

­— Samuel Kelley, Palo Alto High School ‘14


Photo courtesy of Chloe Zilliac.


chloe“I am teaching voice, piano and guitar lessons at the Riekes Center. … I am also supporting myself, living in an apartment in Redwood City. … Living on my own has taught me how to manage my finances and my time well.”

— Chloe Zilliac, Palo Alto High School ‘14



Photo courtesy of Patrick Skelly.

“I worked in Alaska selling tours this summer to make money to travel, then I went to Sri Lanka and … traveled around to Thailand, Singapore and Dubai.”

­— Patrick Skelly, Henry M. Gunn High School ‘14