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If you could do it again, *when* would you?

  1. Jul 27, 2011 #1

    The purpose of this thread is because I'm face, or at least, in a few months, I will be faced with a decision of that sort. I wanted to get people's opinion on their time at college/university.

    Do you think that if you went in a year or two (or maybe even more!) later, you would have benefited more? Or done things "better"? Or have been more focused...or something else?

    My country is a commonwealth nation and it follows the English educational system pretty closely. The only difference is that, if one has not repeated or skipped any grades, he/she will get into university at 19. Then, bachelor's degrees are generally 3 years long, with the exception of engineering which is 4.

    In any case, I'm having second thoughts. Do I really want to go to university next year? In some ways, I sort of know that whatever happens, the most likely outcome will be that I will major in maths or physics (note that there isn't much flexibility in our system and majors are to be chosen in the first year) but I also feel that in some ways, I'm not ready to go just yet. I have so much more to learn. If I stay at school and repeat my last year, I can get the opportunity to better my grades and perhaps, qualify for some kind of scholarship, which means that I can get to go study elsewhere, maybe in the US or Oz. (read: good unis/colleges that are "less selective") And I love travelling. I actually wrote down a pros/cons list of both choices and I can't decide. On the one hand, I'll have to work insanely for the next 3 months and come out with, hopefully decent grades or I repeat the grade and work slightly less insanely for another full year and perhaps get a scholarship.

    Anyway, I've rambled too much and all I wanted is your opinions about this and of course, *your very own* college experience and if you would rather have done it at a later time than when you were 18.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2011 #2
    Hi Thy Apathy! :smile:

    I was extremely happy that I could go to university when I was 18. I was sick of high school and all of the silly courses that didn't interest me. So if I could so it again, I would do it at the same time. I probably would have changed quite a few things though...

    But really, don't base your own decision on the experience on somebody else.

    Let me ask you a few questions:

    Like what?? What could you possible have to learn in high school that you can't learn in university??

    Do you mean you don't feel prepared enough for university and that you think you didn't see enough math yet??

    Why want to study in the US?? I can't imagine that their universities are better than Australian universities. Or is it that you're not certain yet whether you will want to do math and physics?? In that case, you've got a very valid concern. But repeating your high school year is silly. Perhaps you'll be better off taking a sabbatical and self-study a few subjects to see whether it really interests you.
  4. Jul 27, 2011 #3
    Dammit, that's one reason in favour of going ASAP! I'm sick of staying in high school. If I had it my way, I wouldn't go at all, self-study, then write the exams. (you can actually do that here; a-levels are administered by an external exam body) But my parents won't be happy about it, that's for sure!

    It's more to get a feel of things. How other people feel about it, y'know? Maybe there's something I didn't think of. Stuff like that.


    I don't know if going straight into it would be the right choice. Once I get into a course, there's no changing it unless I drop out and re-start from the first year again. That's usually how it works at the local uni. I am actually willing to leave things a bit to luck and see what comes of it...

    I would like to travel, see and experience different things/cultures. I don't want to stay home this long. Either the US or Australia would be fine. I was in Oz for a few days (Melbourne and Sydney) and I loved it there. Especially Melbourne. Sydney was, er, too "fancy"?

    Anyway, I'm pretty certain about applied math and/or physics but there's other things I want to learn on the side. Repeating the last year of high school means that I get a *serious shot* at earning a scholarship. I'll have to be competing nation-wide for it. International tuition fees are expensive as and unless I have the required amount of money, I won't be able to study anywhere abroad. Even if I do have the grades.

    I'm also applying to Berea College (in Kentucky) this year, which, while being competitive, is definitely less competitive than flippin' MIT or Yale. They don't have any tuition fees and do offer on-campus jobs, so...:)

    Right, if this works out, I guess I won't have a good reason to stay another year. Not to mention that I probably won't like it at all and that *might* also reflect into poor performance, I suspect.

    I talked about this with a friend and she tends to think that wherever I go, the outcome won't be that different (I think she's prolly right 'bout this one) and that maybe travelling on my own for a while (backpacking or some such) might do me some good. Obviously, I won't know until I try it but that's another option...
  5. Jul 27, 2011 #4
    I went to university right after high school because I knew exactly what I wanted to study (physics). Although I don't regret that decision, I do sometimes think that taking a year off first to travel would have been very rewarding. Working and living abroad while relying completely on yourself for perhaps the first time won't teach quantum mechanics, but it will most likely leave you refreshed, more mature, and sure of what you'd like to do next. Also, if you want to pursue another degree after your bachelors (what I'm about to do) but would like to do some extended traveling first, a whole year off at that point can appear to be detrimental on an application. (There are many exceptions to this, of course!)

    It sounds like you are set on going abroad, in which case a chance at getting a scholarship is attractive. However, unless your post-secondary education system is not reputable, a bachelors degree from a university in your own country would be equivalent to one from the US or Oz, especially since we are not talking MIT or Harvard here. Could you do one of your 3 or 4 years on exchange? I just think that repeating your last year could be a very frustrating and boring experience.

    Definitely a tough decision! I don't know your whole situation, but I would say think more about traveling. Nobody I know who has done so has ever regretted it.
  6. Jul 27, 2011 #5
    If you can afford it, take a Gap year and travel. Maybe work a bit and earn some money. Life-experience is very important to put perspective on why you are going to University. When I did my undergrad, there was a very obvious maturity difference between students who had taken a gap year and those that hadn't.
  7. Jul 28, 2011 #6
    I will have at least 6 months free before starting post-secondary education, assuming I start it next year. I will still apply to places, maybe something will happen along the way that will get things flowing seamlessly or maybe I'll find more than just a good reason to defer my decision. Time will tell...

    Another option, if I do stay here, would be doing useful stuff. Stuff that I wanted to do but never got a chance to. "Life experiences", if you will. And who knows, maybe that might help me in getting into other colleges...
  8. Jul 28, 2011 #7
    Depends entirely on you.

    I went to college straight out of high school, spent more time on girls (literally) than studies, and got mostly B's in Hotel Administration classes.

    After my freshman year, I got drafted, spent a couple years overseas, then worked another couple years as a firefighter to make some money, then went back to college, essentially starting over.

    With my increased maturity and motivation, I got straight A's with degrees in math and CS, and a minor in EE. So the time off definitely helped me.

    On the other hand, I have a nephew who knew exactly what he wanted to do (which I never did), blazed through college after high school, and is about to get a Ph.D. in physics from one of the very top programs.

    So it depends on you.
  9. Jul 28, 2011 #8


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    Assuming that I could know what I know now, then I'd do it as soon as possible. However, when I graduated high school, I didn't have the skills and maturity to go straight to college. So, for me, it was better that I waited.

    It is much more difficult now that I'm older and have more responsibilities, not to mention that my wife and I will be wanting kids soon.

    This is a decision you're going to have to feel-out. There's no formula that works for everyone. Don't rush it, though. I think that's safe advice. :smile:
  10. Aug 2, 2011 #9
    Are you working now or in grad school? I'm interested in doing Maths as well...

    How's that working out so far? What are you majoring in? If you don't mind me asking, how old are you now? I'm guessing mid-20s.


    I've given things more of a thought. I will apply 4-6 places this year. If I don't get in anywhere, I'll stay another year. I'll figure something out to enable me to learn more material (maths wise). The principal has an MS in Maths and he's always willing to help with stuff. I spend most of my free lessons doing the work he's set me prior to the holidays. Hopefully, they're as flexible as I'd thinking. I also want to start a new Model UN. The one already in place is filled with atrocities of all kinds and I hated every second I spent there. Either that or I'll try be one of the chairpersons. Having said that, I would hate to be working with these bastards.
  11. Aug 2, 2011 #10


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    I'm majoring in mathematics, which isn't what I originally thought I would want to do, but I feel like I've finally found the perfect fit.

    The toughest part has been finding quality time with my wife and friends. Up to this point, I've been working full-time (40-50 hours per week) while going to school part-time (7-9 units per semester). This fall will be the first time that I'll be a full-time student. I've gotten excellent grades (3.88 - one B+ :mad:) and have been accepted to the honors program at the University I transferred to, but it definitely took some sacrifice. I'm still learning how to balance and manage my personal life, work, and studies.

    During my first semester back to school, I found out that my wife had a (benign) tumor on her right, parotid gland. It was stretching a major facial nerve and could cause facial paralysis if it wasn't removed. After her partial parotidectomy, she needed lots of care, and it was extremely difficult to manage school along with all of the practical and emotional effects of taking a loved-one through a major surgery.

    Sorry to ramble, but these are the types of things that have made it more difficult for me.

    I'm 27 - almost 28. I started taking classes at the local community college 2 years ago. I took a placement test and ended up in intermediate algebra. I was frustrated with myself and the lazy attitude I had in high school; the first three mathematics courses wouldn't even count towards my major, but I was happy to be learning again. I have a much greater value for education, and my work ethic has improved drastically, both of which have been major factors in my success.

    Finally, the one thing that's made things exponentially easier is the support and love I've received from my wife. She's been incredibly supportive through this process and has played the most significant role in my success as a student. This is something that the younger folk usually don't have and further emphasizes the point that there are pro's and con's to any path one chooses.

    I wish you the best of luck. Keep asking questions, receiving advice, and doing research! If you keep an open mind and respond well to criticism, then you'll do just fine. :smile:
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2011
  12. Aug 2, 2011 #11
    Woah. I really didn't expect to hear most of this. It was good to read of your experiences so far. It's the kind of thing that reminds me how much of an ungrateful slacker I've been throughout high school. I had practically other responsibility besides taking care of my learning and I messed up. Many times. Anyway, I too, wish you the best of luck with college and your family. :)
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