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Teen Spirit is doing well at Gap Year University

for The Brooklyn Paper
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Teen Spirit’s first semester at Gap Year University (GYU) is moving along nicely. Well, it’s not like they send out a progress report or anything. But from what Smartmom can tell, Teen Spirit is learning a lot about himself and maybe even life.

Of course, there are no formal classes at GYU. And there are neither classrooms nor professors. Like the School of Hard Knocks, another Gap Year college, the learning takes place in the real world. The instruction? It’s whatever you pick up on the way.

At GYU, the only requirement is getting a job. Teen Spirit took the most basic course he could find: Grunt Work 101, which turned out to be a job at a warehouse in Red Hook for 30 hours a week.

And what a great learning experience that was. He had to get to work on time, follow orders and spend the day on his feet packing and moving boxes. He came home from work exhausted, hot and sweaty.

Work. Real Work. What could be better?

There were other learning experiences, too. He had to invoice the company to get paid. He tried to open a bank account, but found out that you need a passport or driver’s license to do that. He had to figure out where to get his checks cashed in lieu of a bank account. Aside from the First Bank of Mom, he learned that there are check cashing places all over the city that charge a fee.

And he had to learn how to save his new money, and that what used to seem like a lot of money isn’t all that much after you buy yourself a new Xbox and pay for your own food, transportation and entertainment expenses without an allowance.

He is not, however, being charged rent. Not yet anyway.

Alas, the job at the warehouse was a temporary stint. And now that it’s over, he’s looking for a new one — and in this economy that can be a bit daunting.

So that’s a learning experience, too.

You’ve got to network and make phone calls. You need to check Craig’s List, talk to friends, write a resume and to learn how to present yourself in a job interview.

What about the social life at Gap Year University? It’s not like there’s a student center or a cafeteria. And there don’t seem to be school dances or clubs. Luckily, he has plenty of friends who are still in high school and quite a few friends at local colleges.

And the food?

Teen Spirit has been making good use of the family’s panini maker, something he disparaged just months ago as “terribly bourgeois.”

You can’t say much for dormitory life at GYU when the dorm room is actually the room you grew up in and the kids down he hall are his parents and his sister, the Oh So Feisty One.

So in a way, Smartmom, Hepcat and OSFO have become Teen Spirit’s suite mates.

He and Hepcat have even developed all kinds of fun nightly rituals like watching David Letterman and Craig Ferguson and ordering cheeseburgers from Purity Diner at midnight.

They’re practically a fraternity.

At GYU, Teen Spirit has really thrown himself into his music and is writing a lot of great songs for his solo act as well as his band, Bad Teeth.

So all in all, what does Smartmom think about GYU? Would she recommend it to her friends?

Sure. Why not? The price is right. While she’s not sure if it would score very high in US News and World Report, it does seem to be the right place for her creative and independent son.

And the best part is that he’s definitely coming home for Thanksgiving.

Louise Crawford, a Park Slope mom, also operates “Only the Blog Knows Brooklyn.”
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Reader Feedback

Cosmolite from Park Slope says:
That "poor" kid!
Oct. 19, 2009, 9:02 am
Jess from WT says:
Take a colege corse or two, kid. Don't get out of the habbit of lerning.
Oct. 21, 2009, 6:53 pm
Ed from Slope says:
Good column.
Oct. 24, 2009, 9:10 pm
sue l. from Sheepshead Bay says:
Hey, "Teen Spirit"! I have a few suggestions:

1. Get a driver's license or state non-driver's ID--very useful in order to be a functioning adult. If you want to do any traveling (and nowadays that even includes Canada) get a passport.

2. Consider a course or two at one of the community colleges.

3. If classrooms aren't your thing, take some CLEP exams (you can get the study books at the library) or online courses. That way, if/when you decide to go to a regular college, you don't have to start as a no-credit freshman along with the kids who came fresh from school.
Oct. 27, 2009, 12:28 pm
Lisa from south slope says:
bank account is definitely important so get the non-drivers state ID or have mom and dad be the custodians of the account!!
Nov. 11, 2009, 11:33 am

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