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“Throughout my senior year, I began to notice some of my classmates getting their acceptance letters to schools,” says Leap Year fellow Katy (pictured right). “It made me start asking myself: ‘If I am not going to college, then what am I going to do once I graduate?'”

I Did Not Think College Was Important, But Now I Know It Is

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My Senior Year

I never really considered college as an option for most of my life because nobody in my family has ever gone to college. My senior year of high school is when I started to change my mind about college. I believed, and I’m sure many other high school seniors can relate, that once I was finished with school, I would not need any more of it. I thought I had gone through enough school, and my life as an adult was just getting started. Throughout my senior year, I began to notice some of my classmates getting their acceptance letters to schools. They knew what they were doing once we graduated from high school. It made me start asking myself: “If I am not going to college, then what am I going to do once I graduate?” I had help from Ms. Hollins, a college prep teacher from Tri-Cities, that I now feel guilty of not taking advantage of when I was still in high school. I started to learn about the many benefits of college and why it can be so important. I started to realize that maybe I did want to attend college. I started to feel that I wanted to be more than just average Katy with no plans. I knew I had a greater opportunity of obtaining a college degree.

I Learned Why College Is Important

Through my own research and support from Ms. Hollins, I realized why college is so important for me and others. A college degree can open doors of opportunity that might not be available to you without a college degree. Many careers require you to have a college degree. After considering some possible career interests of mine, like working in business, I realized how a college degree can boost my chances of getting the job I want. I know many people who are very successful without a college degree because not all great jobs require college. I also have a friend who has a family business that was passed down to him. He is able to gain experience and learn all of the logistics about the job through this benefit. But many people, like myself, do not have that kind of opportunity. I also have a friend with years of experience at his job and great knowledge about what he does, but he can only make a certain amount of money at his company because he doesn’t have a college degree. Seeing situations my friends and family are in has led me to realize that for what I want with my future, furthering my education is not a waste of time.

Benefits of Going to College

Obtaining a college degree can get you ahead in your career path and can lead to overall happiness and stability. According to a 2012 study by State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEOA), individuals who have a college degree earn more money than those who only have a high school diploma. Most jobs that require college degrees, such as a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral have additional benefits. Examples of these benefits are health care for their employees and their families, retirement investment, and opportunities to travel. Not only do you benefit from your degree, but your family does also. College graduates can switch careers or enter careers they did not study because they have a degree. For example, Amber Scott got her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, yet she became the Executive Director of The Leap Year program. Earning your college degree can help you realize your passions and goals in your career and life. Attending college an excellent investment of time, money, and effort into your future.

Katy is a fellow in VOX ATL’s partner program Leap Year that works with recent high school graduates taking a gap year between high school and college. Learn more about them at

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