Monday, March 23, 2015

Spring Admit- Awful or Awesome?

College admission decisions are coming out now where students are finding out where they will go to school next year. Some students are finding out that they have been accepted, but they cannot start until January 2016. This news is met with disappointment and wonder at how the Fall will be filled for some students. Will I enroll in another college for the fall? Will I pursue a "Gap Year" (Not sure what that is? Read below.) experience? Some are disappointed as it will mess up football season or fall rush for a fraternity or sorority. Though your plans have been hit with a bowling ball, this doesn't mean that you are without some great options.

In order to plan your next move, let's look at enrolling at a community college for the fall. First, let's consider the benefits of choosing this option.  A student could potentially take courses that will transfer with them in January 2016 that are deemed by many as "freshman weed-out courses."  These tend to be courses that are out of one's intended major where the interest is low.  There can be some merit to choosing to take courses at this level in a smaller environment where there may be less students in the class.  Looking at this option for many students and parents leads us to all agree that it keeps a student in an academic state-of-mind and allows them to still plan on a four-year graduation time frame.  While this certainly can be true, many students have to ask themselves is this necessary.  AP and dual enrollment credits have enabled many students to go in to college with one two or three semesters knocked out, making not taking courses in the fall ok in the grand scheme of things.

Another option is a gap year experience.  A gap year experience is where students will purposely take a year off between high school and college to grow up.  There are crazy expensive programs out there that involve traveling across Europe for that year, for example.  While that sounds wonderful, it may be something that is out of reach financially and something that many parents are not comfortable with.  Other programs invite students into serving as a missionary to an inner city or another country.  This helps a graduating senior learn about the world outside of Oconee County, both economically and culturally.  It can also be a resume builder for your future employment opportunities.  Usually this can have a cost tied to it as well.

One thing that students might consider is working to save up money for college.  The success of a student in college is increased significantly if he or she has something invested too.  Holding employment can really help a student gain perspective and a better understanding of who they themselves are.  Ultimately, it helps a student gain maturity and therefore can help them in college in January 2016.

You could try to conjoin all of these ideas into some thing amazing that includes travel, income and providing a student with an opportunity to grow up some.  Many of the National Parks offer students jobs in the summer.  Some of those locations also provide a student with food and housing as partial compensation for their work there.  Students will come away from this with the experience of living on their own and being responsible for their own finances while working there, AND they will get a once in a lifetime experience of living in a national park for 5 months seeing the seasons change and playing in nature's playground.  This is a very cheap gap year experience that a student might even come home with a little bit of money in his or her pocket!  It may be a great alternative to "education as usual" for a small window of time.

Suffice it to say that there are really no bad ideas.  You just need to determine what is going to meet your 5 and 50 year goals.  What is going to get me to my goal and what is going to be an education that will make me a better adult?  In all, this January start can be a wonderful gift that the Admissions Office just gave to you, and not necessarily a curse.