The Road Less Traveled

It was the beginning of April and I had to make a decision. All of my college acceptances, denials, and everything in between had long come in the mail. It was time to figure out where I would be spending the next four years of my life and I was daunted by the implications of my decision.

My Mom and I had decided to visit my most viable college option, a state school about an hour away from home. As I walked around campus trying to convince myself that I would be happy at this school, I couldn’t help but feel underwhelmed. Big football teams, frats, and overly aggressive school spirit had never been my thing. I looked over at my Mom and said, “You know… I could go here.”

But, right then and there, I knew that it wasn’t the right school for me.

I didn’t want to go to a school that I felt lukewarm about. I wanted to go to a school that felt like a good fit, not a compromise.

So, as May 1st approached, I was faced with two options. I could go to the state school or I could go to one of my other college options, which were all too expensive for me to even begin thinking about affording. I wasn’t happy with either of the the options.

I didn’t want to make a compromise that I wasn’t happy with. So, I didn’t.

I began researching gap year opportunities and planning for a future that didn’t involve going to college immediately. What I found was amazing! Not only was a gap year doable, but it started to look more and more appealing as I delved deeper into the topic.

Helping First-Gen Students Tell Their Story

I found that taking a gap year often times doesn’t mean taking a year off. I knew I didn’t want to take a year off, I wanted to take a year for myself. A year where it was up to me to make the most of it. I wanted to go somewhere, do something, and get out of my comfort zone. I wanted to be pushed during my gap year and after a couple weeks of a deep google search expedition, I found the perfect opportunity for me.

It was an internship in Silicon Valley and that required me to move 3,000 miles from home. The company’s mission? To help students tell their stories in the college admissions process. Needless to say, it was a perfect fit.

All year I’ve been helping empower students by encouraging them to tell their stories in the college admissions process. It’s been an incredible experience. Being able to help other students in this way has made me appreciate my own story even more.

As for my college journey? I took a second look at colleges this year and found several that I know are a good fit for me. One of them has even offered me a full academic ride! My path to college has been a little different from the traditional student’s but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I took risks, refused to compromise, and went outside of my comfort zone. I hope that all of you will find your own path to college as well. If that means taking a gap year, then go do it!

Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled. Often times, that’s what makes the difference.

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