Taking time between high school and college

Discussion in 'Community' started by rainman::|:|, Jun 10, 2004.

  1. rainman::|:| macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    iowa
    #1
    Well, okay, here's my deal. In high school I won the Matthew Shepard Scholarship, giving me a free ride to any of the state schools. The scholarship is awarded to openly gay high school students, and coming out in high school left me with some things to deal with... Long story short, I wound up taking a few years off to deal with emotional problems, which i was successful in overcoming (recently). I've finally decided what I want to do with my life (furniture design and sculpture), so i'm planning on starting school in 2005. I'll be 22 turning 23, and I'm finding that it's hard to go back to school. It seems like college is geared towards two groups of people-- high school students, and later-life adult learners. I'm kind of despairaging myself at this point, feeling like a total loser for having wasted so much time (the other kids that won the scholarship in 2000 are graduating this year). It seems like it's acceptable to take a year off before college, to "find yourself", but any more than that, and you're a slacker. My scholarship group is also pretty high-pressure, they're all very bright and talented kids that seem to have an easy time with graduating college by age 22.

    I guess I'm just feeling a little inadequate, hoping some people here can give insight into taking a few years off before college. I know we have a lot of adult learners here, but that's kind of a different thing, because usually they intended to go right to work. Anyone else starting college age 20-25?

    paul
     
  2. AnotherMortal macrumors regular

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    Jan 14, 2003
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    Baltimore
    #2
    I have noticed the same thing

    I took college courses my junior and senior year of HS, and graduated HS in 2000, then received my AAS degree in 2001. I took some time off, focused on working, and when I landed a cushy IT job at a prestigious college that offers tuition grants for employees, I started back to school.

    It was a pain. I needed to take evening classes, but the main campus doesn't offer evening classes. So I enrolled in their specialized professional studies program which offered evening classes at a satellite campus, but everyone in the program were 20 years older than me. Then I got married, and took another year off.

    I still need about 55 credits, and I'll finally have my BS degree, but it'll be worth it. It was frustrating though when most of my friends went to a four year university and my family couldn't afford it. We're middle class, and I didn't receive any grants or scholarships. My parents couldn't afford to take a loan for my education, so I had to pay for it myself.
     
  3. sushi Moderator emeritus

    sushi

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    #3
    Suggest that you don't start college until you are ready.

    If your heart is not into school, it will be a waste of time for you. What I mean by this, is that you have to really want the end result in order to stick with it. College presents challenges that will test your motivation to continue until the end. Until you are ready to commit, suggest that you wait until the time is right for you.

    Good luck with your decision.

    Sushi
     
  4. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

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    #4
    A few thoughts, Paul. There are more than a few people entering college a few years after the young, rapid-moving high school kids that flood in every year. Plenty of people spend a year or two or three at a junior college, sometimes switching from one junior college to another, and then transferring into universities at age 20, 21, 22, or later. And more than a few take a couple years off, as you have done.

    The differences between an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old can be significant, but 21 vs. 24 - eh, big deal. I think your peer group is more likely to be based on department/major (e.g., design students) than on age. In any case, if your peer group isn't as large as all those freshman biology majors, so be it.

    I hope you can put full energy into becoming a student again. Once you've tasted the freedom of traveling, working, earning money, goofing off, finding yourself, and other facets of the real world, it can take a little effort to overcome inertia and voluntarily return to the world of classes, note-taking, and tests again. But if you like to learn (as I do), you'll get back into it quickly, especially now that you'll have so much freedom to pick the classes you take (and the college!).

    Starting college after a couple years off isn't as easy as moving with the crowds, but what's the alternative? Not going to college? Naw. You've got that great scholarship, so maybe all you need is reassurance that you won't feel like a fish out of water. I don't think you will, so consider yourself reassured, encouraged, and ready to begin, with your friends behind you. Rah rah, Paul!
     
  5. rainman::|:| thread starter macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    iowa
    #5
    lol thanks guys... I've felt like it would be a waste to go to college without being ready as well, being gay in a small town meant I didn't get a chance at a lot of things (relationships), and the gay community kind of overwhelms "newbies" when they move to bigger cities. All of my scholarship advisors keep telling me, no one sticks with the same major, so it's pointless to figure out what i want to do first... that college itself will be the remedy for my inability to decide what to do in college. Which works for some people, but I needed the determination of having clearly defined goals and dreams. I've watched too many people get degrees in a field that they simply show aptitude for (which was IT for me), ending up in dead-end careers that they hate... If I were graduating with a Computer Science degree right now, as I had originally planned in high school, i'd be pretty pissed at myself right now...

    Some of it does come down to development between 17 and 21, when I graduated high school, my attitude was poor and I hated learning insitutions. But now, the idea of learning is actually enticing. The design program I'm looking at requires a lot of specialization early on, so most of my previous coursework would be useless now anyway-- It really is a matter of feeling like a fish out of water, like you said. Michael Moore covers it well when he talks about the immense pressure young people are under to pick a career and rush into it... doesn't leave much room for exploring life, deciding what you want to do slowly. I just wish they weren't so good at making people feel guilty for doing that :)

    paul
     
  6. JesseJames macrumors 6502a

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    How'd I get here? How can I leave?
    #6
    Dude, I did a stint in the service- for a multitude of reasons. Got out in my early twenties and went to Community College and finished that.
    I did feel out of place and know exactly what you mean. But stick to your guns. Join clubs or whatever to feel more "plugged in". They don't necessarily have to be clubs at school either.
    DON'T FEEL BAD, at least you figured things out for yourself early in life. So a mid-life crisis probably won't be in your future. ;)
     
  7. krimson macrumors 65816

    krimson

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    Democratic People's Republic of Kalifornia
    #7
    Im pretty much in the same boat.

    FINISH AS SOON AS YOU CAN. :)
    once you stop, it's really hard to stop your life and go back to school.
     
  8. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #8
    It's just a matter of you deciding it's what you want to be doing. I tried college right after HS (well Community College anyway) and dropped out after a year because I wasn't putting enough effort into it. At age 21 I decided I was sick of working crappy jobs for low pay and decided I either needed to learn a trade or get back in school. After deciding what career path I was after I began back at Community College. 4 years later I was ready to transfer to a real college. Unfortunately my chosen path then required a 5-year program to get your bachelors, and my community college didn't have the necessary classes for me to get design credit so I had to start at the beginning of a 5-year sequence of classes. Almost switched to another major at that point, but instead I took some classes to get a minor and got myself out of college 9 years after I'd started, at the age of 30. So don't feel too bad, but there are definetly some advantages and disadvantages of being older than the average. Also that depends on what school you go to. Some schools are commuter schools designed around older and working populations. Others (like where I went) have an average age of about 20. Either way, don't sweat it. If you are happy there, that's all that matters.
     
  9. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #9
    We're talking about a MacRumors member's college plans without comments from jefhatfield. Is that legal? ;)
     
  10. craigdawg macrumors 6502

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    Mar 8, 2004
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    Sactown
    #10
    That's very true. I was under a bit of pressure to get college over with as soon as possible because my dad was waiting to retire until after I graduated. So I went balls out and finished in four years with only one unit over the minimum. (I read recently that universities are having problems with students lingering for 7+ years). Anyway, I feel like I had a typical college experience, i.e. getting drunk and stupid, and didn't miss out on anything because I was taking so many units (which wasn't really even that much).

    Once I was done with school I was DONE. I got a job and started making a little bit money, bought a car, and was very happy to not have to go to class and/or study. I've been out for quite a while and have no intention of ever going back!

    The bottom line is, do what you want to do. Your school of choice isn't going anywhere. You won't ever be able to go back and revisit this time in your life; you don't want to regret not taking advantage of this opportunity.

    The most important thing I learned in college was time management and...oh crap I have to get on a conference call. Later!
     
  11. candan9019 macrumors regular

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    Feb 18, 2003
    Location:
    Ontario-> Louisiana-> Colorado-> Ontario
    #11
    I'm kinda in the same situation too. After high school I was supposed to got to university for Aviation but couldn't do it. I went back home and to a community college for Aviation but I didn't feel like I was going anywhere. Last year I was supposed to go to school in Ottawa, again couldn't do it. I went back home, well my parents moved back to Ontario and I went with them. So I am in Canada and I had to give up my 'green card' so I'm stuck here. I now realize I don't really like living in Ontario I perfer the States. Well the only way to get back to the States is to go to school, so I enrolled again in Ottawa for this fall however, It is quite different this time, I have motivation.

    So see it could be worse. I am turning 20 next week and am also concerned about my slight age difference but if I look at the alternative it could be a lot worse.

    And if you want to catch up a bit you could take summer courses, thats what I plan on doing.
     
  12. Awimoway macrumors 65816

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    Sep 13, 2002
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    at the edge
    #12
    I completed my Bachelor's at 27.

    It's not easy, emotionally. But obviously it's still worth it. I don't really have any coping advice other than to just do what you know is right, which is to get the learning you want, no matter what your age.

    I started college less than a week after high school graduation, but after a quarter and a semester, I left for a two-year mission. The mission ended just a couple weeks after the start of a winter semester, and I foolishly decided to wait until the next Fall to return to school. 8 wasted months. I took too many classes the first semester, overwhelmed myself, and took light loads for years. I changed my major twice. I got married and had kids, so I had to keep the load lighter so I could spend time with my family. I injured my back and lost a semester to recovery time from back surgery. Consequently, it took 9 years to finish college, and I was at school for 6 of them.

    I started feeling embarrassed and awkward after everyone I started school with had graduated and moved on. It took me another 3 years to finish. I felt impatient to get on with my life, embarrassed. But I can't point to any single failing on my part, other than some poorly used time. I was definitely one of those who didn't know what he wanted to do with his life. In fact, if I could do it all over again, I would have majored in something else (and I can think of two possibilities), but there came a point at which it would have been ridiculous to change a third time.

    But your maturity will give you some advantages. And you're not really a LOT older than everyone else. The older you get, the less age matters. No one in elementary school talks to kids in other grades. In junior high and high school, this taboo loosens exponentially with age as the differences in maturity and intelligence become less pronounced. It's the same with college. Age just matters less.

    Everyone keeps trying to remind me that I'm still young, that's it's okay I'm starting my career at this age. But when I tell them I may go back to school (law), most get a little worried. An ER doctor I saw (who was very good, by the way) started medical school in his late 30's. He's one of the few who not only approved of my law school plans, but strenuously endorsed them (because trying to support a family of five on the single income of a smallish town newspaper copy editor is, obviously, ridiculous).



    I'm rambling. I guess I prefer stories to advice. All I'm saying is that I can't guarantee that it won't be kind of embarrassing, but that doesn't mean the embarrassment is warranted. You'll fit in well enough. You'll do it because it's the right thing to do with your life, no matter what your age. (My wife's grandmother got her Ph.D at 70. My wife is staying at home and raising the kids. I keep telling her I think she should go to medical school when the kids have grown up—she's seriously entertaining the possibility of at least becoming a certified nurse midwife.) So it will be worth it. Best of luck to you.
     
  13. Chip NoVaMac macrumors G3

    Chip NoVaMac

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    Northern Virginia
    #13
    I won't take offense as one of those "late in life learners". You'll have an easier time fitting in than those in my group.

    We all have to march to our drummer. You were wise to wait till you got past issues that may not have allowed you to focus on school. School is way more competitive than when I graduated from HS back in '76. Did spend '76-77 in college, and issues got in the way. So I do have experience there.

    Wish you well.
     
  14. Neserk macrumors 6502a

    Neserk

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2004
    #14
    You are only 22 :eek: I thought you were in your 30's at least.

    I did the traditional thing, took a year off, went to grad school and now 9 years after that am back again getting a second masters degree. Going to school is like riding a bike! You'll get right back in the flow of it. As a 34 year old I like school better than I did when I was 18 or 23. You may find the break gives you tons more energy and heaven knows any 23 year old is more mature than most 18 year olds. You'll do great.

    NOw, what was your question again? :p
     
  15. wdlove macrumors P6

    wdlove

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2002
    #15
    I think that it took a lot of courage to admit that you were not ready for college right after high school. Those that wait usually do better in school because they are ready to settle down and study. There is a great advantage in knowing what you want out of life.

    I went to school right out of high school. Went to be a funeral director. Then at 22 realized that it was a mistake. Went into nursing which was a very rewarding decision.

    My wife went to LPN school right out of high school. Not really ready for college. She attended college at 27 and has done very well as a registered nurse.
     
  16. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Andover, MA
    #16
    One of my best friends in college started four years "late" due to a stint in the service. He fit in just fine; he was seen as being more mature, but that was never a negative - gave him an air of authority.

    I started early due to skipping some grades, and, honestly, I'd much rather have started college at 22 than 16.

    My guess is that the only person who will perceive your age as a negative will be you. Odds are, however, that you might see a lot of your classmates as a bit immature, but that's to be expected.

    Also, you'll be more likely to finish classwork before going to parties, etc., which will make you a better student.

    And regardless of your sexual preference, it cannot be a bad thing socially for a guy to "have to" hang out with people four years younger. I loved being in grad school because I was finally older than the girls. You'll have a similar advantage.

    Best of luck - and congratulations on having not only the courage to be who you are openly, but also to explore your true career interests instead of blindly following "where you're supposed to go".
     
  17. Crikey macrumors 6502

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    Spencer's Butte, Oregon
    #17
    Hi, Paul,

    If going to school is what you want, you should do it! Pursue your passion.

    I went from high school straight to a university, and I often wish I had taken a year or two off first and maybe started at a community college with smaller classes and lower tuition for the lower-level credits. I wasn't motivated very well at first.

    I think your time off will probably help you avoid many of the traps that freshmen fall into, and with a few extra years of experience you are less likely than an 18-year-old to change your major a few times (though if that's what it takes to pursue your passion, that's what you should do!). It's true that at college, being four years older is not the big deal it would be in K12 schools. There's no utopia, but I found the people and the social environment are much more open.

    While you're right that there are two main streams of people at most schools -- 18-22 and thirty-something-plus -- you'll probably find other people your age as well.

    Good luck with whatever you decide!


    Crikey
     
  18. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #18
    I could have been very happy going into furniture design. Now it's just my hobby. If only I could find $2,000 for a Delta Unisaw.... :p

    Do you know where you're going yet?
     
  19. rainman::|:| thread starter macrumors 603

    rainman::|:|

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    iowa
    #19
    Yep, i'll be attending Iowa State University's design college. from what i've seen so far, it has a pretty diverse blend of people, so i really doubt my age will make me stick out like a sore thumb or anything :) But it's definitely great to hear from so many of you that have pursued degrees later on... To get kids into college right after high school, they go out of their way to make it sound like you'll never fit in again. I know it's not true... but it's hard not to listen...

    I think I'll be better off for having waited. As has been said, it'll keep me away from some of the pitfalls-- I've already learned about love and heartbreak; I've learned how to be self-sufficient (that's a nasty thing to throw at a college kid right off the bat!); how to hold a job, how to not get arrested doing stupid ****, and since I'm in a relationship, I don't have to worry as much about that aspect. With a little luck, I'll get transfered to a new department at work, which will allow me more flexibility in taking day classes... For some reason, night classes are kind of a turn-off for me.

    Thanks everyone :D
    paul
     
  20. Groovsonic macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2002
    Location:
    Near Chicago, Illinois
    #20
    Hey...
    You sound a bit like me (except the whole gay, scholarship, furniture design thing...) in that I didn't start college until I was 21. I hadn't "started my life" yet so it was really easy to drop everything and go, and I have a really supportive family that is helping me financially. It has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever been blessed enough to be able to make. I live on campus, and it is a little eird living with a bunce of 18 year olds, but I think I have more maturity now than I had when I was 18 and I can deal better with certian situations...

    I just finished my freshman year. I can honestly say that it might have been the best year of my life so far.

    Don't feel any pressure either way though.

    God Bless.
     
  21. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    Colly-fornia
    #21
    Well if you ever get a hankerin' for some very scenic and remote coastal living, there's this place. I thought about it very seriously for a while, but went a different direction. If I'm lucky, someday I'll get to go.

    (Note that the bottom of their site says 'Made with Macintosh' :D )
     
  22. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #22
    Hmmm. I didn't realize there were Mac users in Iowa.... :)

    Just kidding. 99% of my relatives live in my birth town of Keokuk, IA - the bottom right corner of the state. When I was 5, my parents moved us to the "giant" town of Pekin, IL.

    Best of luck to you there. It's my Dad's Alma Mater and a great campus.
     
  23. Steven1621 macrumors 6502a

    Steven1621

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    #23
    I think going to a college with a very supportive gay community would be even better than staying at home. Being with a group of people that have gone through something similar can be extremely beneficial.
     
  24. jefhatfield Retired

    jefhatfield

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2000
    #24
    he he

    college/career/resume counselor was my unofficial handle here for a long time but now i just mostly read posts in the community section from time to time and comment less and less...before that, i was the moderate political voice before the political talk got ugly in the general discussions section and thus turned into the political subsection of community discussion...and before that, believe it or not, i was kind of like a moderator here or at least a peacemaker and i NEVER took sides but that was over three years ago ;)

    as for anybody taking time off between high school and college, i think it's a great idea...so it taking off time in the middle of college like i did to find something i wanted to study and realizing that college is not all for job training for the real world

    most people i have met who have finished college do not go into careers directly related to their major and the average american worker will change their career path no less than four times

    to live life, especially with an increasing life expectancy, in just one career is an outdated point of view...in economic times way back when when the word "layoff" was not in our lexicon, a one career life was commonplace...but to try and struggle to stay in just one career with all the changes our workplace has gone through is an exercise in stress and futility

    it makes sense to take time off at different times in one's life, size up one's interests with the job market, and try and make a well thought out choice from there

    ...and for many, sometimes the best plan is no plan ;)
     

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