University, Community, or Gap Year?

Tara Wood, Staff Writer

Skipping a university to attend community college or take a gap year has a negative connotation, but I want to dispel the common myth that students can’t be successful without going straight from high school to a university.

So many high school students don’t even consider these options because they have a tendency to be looked down upon.

People don’t consider smaller, often times two-year colleges to be “quality” or have just as good or sometimes even better education. The same goes for deferring college for a year; just because it’s not the usual route doesn’t mean a year away from school is useless. These schools may not be the Ivy Leagues but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn or grow which is the whole point of college. A year of adjusting to being an adult might be better for some students before they dive right back into their studies.

Smaller two-year colleges, usually community colleges, tend to be more accessible and want to actually be there to help you, the student. In a community college, you can grow a better relationship with your professors, meaning they might actually know your name and thus you can actually go to talk to them ask them a question or get help. On top of that community colleges, more often than not, cost less than universities, which means you can go into less debt or none at all. For those athletes out there this could give you time to hone your skills before playing at any college level or maybe going to a Division I school.

As for gap years there’s a specific stereotype I want to address. If you take a year of to save up for college, travel, or anything else, that does not always mean you are throwing your life away.

It’s not uncommon for adults you respect to not agree with deferring a year because they jump to the conclusion that it means you have no goal or drive and will fail in life.

The Princeton Review says the most common compelling reason to take a gap year is, ”The opportunity for students to explore their interests and develop a purpose for their future. Students can take a break from intense coursework and focus on enriching life experiences.”

If you want to take a gap year, take the gap year. Take the time to not only enjoy yourself and  prepare yourself for a new level of learning. Travel to someplace you’ve never been before and become more aware of the world around you and learn things that you never knew. Gap years can help you save up to get through a full year of college because you don’t have good enough support system or scholarships to get through.

Now don’t get the wrong idea, I’m not saying we should all be Malia Obama or anything. I’m saying do what’s best for you, whatever that means. That could mean deferring college for a year or going to a tiny little community college in the middle of nowhere or even going to a huge university far away. Start focusing on what you want out of your college experience and what is the best way for your to reach your goals.

When you hear things like “a smaller school means it’s not as good” or “taking a gap year means you’ll amount to nothing” don’t be peer or parent pressured into what everyone else thinks you should do. Go ahead and be excited about whatever you feel is the right fit for you because at the end of the day your the one that’s going to need to be happy about your decision because you’ll have to live with it.