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The UnCollege Blog

Capstone Recaps: Josh and Learning to be Your True Self during a Gap Year

“Hi. I’m Josh Goodman. And I am a nerd.”

That’s how Josh Goodman introduced himself during his UnCollege capstone presentation. It felt good for him to announce that he’s a nerd, to let everyone in the audience know that he loves video games and math and technology and coming up with wonderfully complex solutions to everyday problems. But when he began his gap year with UnCollege, Josh didn’t want others to know about his “nerdy” passions and interests. “I lied to their faces when people asked me what I’m interested in,” Josh recalled. “I always said sports marketing, but what I really meant was professional video gaming, or e-sports marketing!”

During his gap year, Josh learned to embrace and value his authentic self and became more comfortable sharing his interests with others. Josh decided to use his time at UnCollege to work on projects he was passionate about, not just what he thought other people would find impressive. He created a parody of Lebron James’ “The Decision” video in which he talked with his UnCollege coach about what he would be doing after his gap year. He collaborated with other fellows on an app design. He even calculated a walking path from the UnCollege dorms in San Francisco to the fellows’ coworking space that was the most optimal route based off the timings of traffic lights. “If that’s not coming to terms with your own nerdiness, I don’t know what is,” Josh remarked.

Josh couldn’t imagine himself following his passions and working on self-directed projects when he decided to drop out of college a year ago. Back then, he felt like he had lost any sense of direction and passion he had. “I had no clue where I was going,” Josh remembered. “I was the definition of someone just going through the motions.” Josh wasn’t alone in feeling this way — uncertainty and doubt about what to pursue in and after college is one of the many reasons why a majority of American college students don’t graduate within four years.

After his gap year, however, Josh is confident in his decision to return to his original university and knows that he’ll arrive back on campus with “a renewed sense of passion and enthusiasm, not just knowing where I’m going but also knowing where I’ve been and what I can accomplish.” His new sense of direction has already lead him to an internship with Tankee, a kid-oriented gaming video platform. Now, Josh knows that he’ll be confident in introducing himself to his professors and peers with “I am Josh Goodman, and I am a nerd!”

If you’re interested in taking a gap year like Josh, we now run our gap programs under Year On. Visit for more information.