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Going to college after 2 years of no school?? Lots of questions! Any input is greatly appreciated!

letpix96letpix96 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
I've been having trouble finding an existing discussion that answered my questions, so I decided to just lay them all out here! I'll start with a little context and then list my questions below. It might get a bit lengthy so feel free to skim or jump to the questions and just answer what you can!(:

I attended a very small, but rigorous, private school where I live in the Midwest for K-12th grade. I didn't mesh very well with my small class or do much extracurricular, but I put my everything into my school work. I maintained a great GPA, was on student council (Vice President junior year), and my senior year completed & presented a senior thesis paper that I researched and worked on for 3/4 of the school year. I also scored high on ACT and SAT. I applied to schools even though I had no idea what I wanted to do or if I even wanted to go. I got accepted to them all (Loyola University of Chicago, Drake University, Augustana College, University of Denver), but I was so burnt out from school, and in a very unhealthy mental place, that I couldn't even think about going back into a school environment when I graduated (in Spring 2015). I was also scared that college would be the same as my high school experience, which was very difficult mentally and emotionally, and I was just really scared of exposing myself to that again. I didn't think I would ever want to go to college and would be happy just staying in my hometown, so I didn't try to plan anything that would benefit me if I wanted to apply to schools again. I considered doing a travel volunteer program, but my parents didn't like the idea, so I got a part time job, lived at home, helped my younger sister (w minor learning disabilities) with school, and didn't do anything remarkable.
Throughout this past year I've gone back and forth on what I want to do, and applied to my state college just in case, but still didn't want to go. I finally decided to enroll in a local cosmetology college for this fall to become a licensed esthetician. Now, I've matured a lot and am in a better place, but still very uncertain about what I want to do. I'm naturally a hard worker who likes to have goals and be motivated, and this past year of uncertainty and just working part time is not me, and I'm thinking it may be time to give college a try. I have a lot of questions, though, and my parents didn't go to college and my small high school never had a guidance counselor or advisor so the whole researching and applying to schools process has always been very overwhelming to me. So I've written some questions that I have and am hoping that someone will see this who has some experience in this area or knows more about the system than me and can give some clarity on these concerns I have.

1. Will colleges/universities look down on the fact that I haven't done anything academic since graduating high school and only worked part-time? And what are some things I can do this upcoming year that would help my application look better besides cc?

2. Since this school year just started, it's too late to enroll in cc, but would it be worth taking a few classes spring semester to get a feel for some areas of interest, or would that make the application process more complicated if I want to apply as a freshman? Would taking classes help or hurt my chances?

3. Since by next spring it will have been 2 years since I've been in school, would it be hard to get into a college as a freshman? Would it be better to go to a cc for two years and then transfer to a university with other older students?

4. My esthetics program goes from start of fall through start of spring. Is it a good idea to go ahead with it? I would like to, but not if colleges would look down on me completing a certification process. Would doing this affect me trying to apply as a freshman? There is still time for me to drop out but classes start soon.

5. Next fall when school starts I will be 20 about to turn 21. Will it be weird to live on campus with people coming straight from high school? I'm already worried about fitting in or being considered an outsider because I'm older haha but has anyone experienced this or is age not as big of a deal?

6. How do I go about filing out an application that requires teacher recommendations and counselor recommendations (my school doesn't even have one lol) when I don't even go there or have contact with the teachers for over a year? Also are my SAT and ACT scores still relevant since I took them last year or will I have to take them again (yikes)?

7. How can I approach application essays about why I took time off and what I did with that time? Should I be completely honest? Will this greatly affect my chances of getting accepted?

8. Does anyone know any resources I can talk to about application questions and such? Since my old school doesn't have a counselor/advisor, I don't really know who to talk to about this stuff or if there even is anyone. Can I ask admissions advisors at schools I want to apply to? Do they remember or make note of what I ask them and will that affect my chances?

9. Finally, does anyone have any school recommendations? At this point I'm interested in Marketing/Design/Communications/Business type direction, but I find all the school options overwhelming. I have family in California but I know those schools are hard to get into, would I stand a chance? At this point I'm wanting a bigger school, pretty diverse student body, in or near a big city, a place for a great education but not Ivy League lol.

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this and help with what you can. This process has just been confusing and a little overwhelming. I also would love anyone sharing if they had a similar experience or situation and what they're doing now! Thank you so much, I'm sorry this is so long! Any input is appreciated!

Replies to: Going to college after 2 years of no school?? Lots of questions! Any input is greatly appreciated!

  • moooopmoooop Registered User Posts: 1,821 Senior Member
    edited August 2016
    1. No problem taking a couple years off after high school. In fact a lot of people think it's a good idea...you start college more mature and focused. Even President Obama's daughter is taking a year off after high school.

    2. This one is tricky...while it's true that a few classes might help u find out what you are interested in, there seems to be a better shot at financial aid for freshman applicants than for transfers (exception being sometimes tranferring from cc to a state school in same state)...so perhaps it would be best financially to try to earn & save as much money as possible in the next year and start taking classes a year from now.

    3. Either way works...is there a cc you want to go to (they are typically commuter schools without the social frills of 4-year schools)? That can be an inexpensive way to get 2 yrs. of credits. As you can see a lot of these variables depend on your finances.

    4. The cosmetology school is fine...they will respect that you have studied something & completed a program. It won't make you a transfer applicant. Stop stressing about what colleges like & if u will be admitted. There are several thousand colleges in the country, and most of them are begging for qualified applicants accepting a high percentage of them.

    5. No problem at all.

    6. Each college has different policies on tests & recommendations. You will have to check their web sites. Some have special policies for people who have been out of school for a few years; some will allow letters from employers instead of teachers; some might accept letters from your cosmetology instructors, etc.

    7. Be honest ( but you don't have to go overnoard divulging personal details ).

    8. You can call or email questions to college admissions offices. If you are worried about confidentiality, email from an account that doesn't have your name associated with it. Or if you call asking questions, you don't have to ( accurately) identify yourself. I' m not saying you should apply fraudulently...I'm saying it's ok to ask questions without telling them who is doing the asking.

    9. There are so many options...you need to tell us what your SATs or ACTs were, your grade point average, & your financial situation. People here will gladly & quickly give u some great options. Relax. You are on exactly the right web site!
  • moooopmoooop Registered User Posts: 1,821 Senior Member
  • letpix96letpix96 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    Thank you so much for all that information! I saw your post but didn't get a chance to reply during my crazy busy weekend. I really appreciate you taking the time to respond though!
    There's not a cc that I necessarily want to go to, the one in my area doesn't have a great reputation so i think moving to go to a better cc and then transfer kind of defeats the purpose of being cost effective. Thankfully my parents are still willing to help me pay for school as well if I decide to go. Also the more I've been thinking about it, the more I like the idea of going to the same school for all four years and being a part of that kind of a bigger school community.
    After reading through your post, I think the best thing to start with would be to get an idea of some school options and then call their admissions and see about how to apply to their school specifically as a non traditional. It seems that different schools have different policies and methods, which makes sense. I also really like the idea of seeing if my current employer or future cosmetology teachers could write recommendation letters for me, I wouldn't have thought to ask schools about that.
    Also my ACT was 28 (31 english, 24 math, 24 science, 34 reading) and my sat was 1810 (reading & writing 650, math 510) So math and science aren't my strong points lol (also these were taken back in fall of 2014) My hs GPA was 3.58.
    Your post really helped me take a step back and stop overthinking everything! I'll just have to start working through this process one step at a time! Thank you!
  • moooopmoooop Registered User Posts: 1,821 Senior Member
    So the next steps would include these:

    1. Figure out roughly how much money you and your parents can afford to spend per year for 4 years of college.

    2. Come up with a list of about 3-5 possible careers you would be interested in.

    3. Figure out which majors might be appropriate for those careers (people on this site will help).

    4. A 28 ACT is good; but every little bit you can raise that might result in more financial aid. Decide whether you think you could improve on the 28.

    5. Decide if u have any strong feelings about which parts of the country you would prefer to study in, and which you'd prefer to avoid.

    If you share some of these details on this site, people will suggest some colleges whose location, price, financial aid, admissions standards, & academic offerings would fit your profile.
  • letpix96letpix96 Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    Okay, I'll start working through these and maybe make another post later for school suggestions. You've been a huge help!
  • simba9simba9 Registered User Posts: 3,083 Senior Member
    edited September 2016
    I went to college for two years, went into the military for four years, and then returned to school for the final two years. I did a lot better in school those last two years than I did the first two.

    My daughter got an esthetician certificate. She did that for about three years, got tired of it, and started going to college part-time. Finally got her degree in her late 20's. Colleges aren't going to hold any kind of certification against her.
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