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Need some DP advice! Help a future college student out!

Hey there everyone!

This is my first post on the DP. I've been reading and visiting this site for well over a year now and recently decided to join to get in on the discussions. The community is great :)

To business. I am a junior in high school and, as I'm sure you well know, all of these colleges and federal aid offers are being thrown everywhere. Being the Ron Paul guy I am, whenever I hear anything about "federal student aid" I usually ignore it. That's another issue, though.

In my list of decisions I've mentally made for myself for my life after high school, one of my options I'm considering is something called a "gap year." For those who don't know what that is, it's essentially taking a year off before college and either deferring your start until a later date or applying exactly a year after high school ends.

The only reason I've even considered a gap year is due to the fact I believe it is extremely immature to borrow a massive amount of money for college and then go in not knowing what I'll likely end up doing or if I'll even get a decent job to pay it all back. My peers tend to think they'll be alright, you know, they'll graduate college, get their dream job, and pay it all back quickly. I guess I know that's too good to be true these days.

I should also note that my parents run their own apparel business and my gap year would be spent entirely working for them. That's approximately $800-$1000 a month, more in the summer. I don't believe in laziness, so the idea of be never returning or continuing my education would never happen. I am open to anything. I just have an issue of spending money I don't have (I can thank Dr. Paul for that :-))

I am just looking for some advice on this. I've seen how knowledgeable and amazing some people are on here and thought it'd be a good place to ask.

In liberty!

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If I could do college over, I would CLEP as much as possible. If you do go to college, look into CLEP (College Level Examination Program). CLEP is a test that you can take on subjects that you are either already familiar with, or study on your own, that will count as college credit. Depending on where you are looking to enroll you can knock out about a semester to a year of credit for a few hundred dollars and minimal effort. If I understand correctly, there are some restrictions, such as they must be completed within the first X many semesters and/or credits, so look into this before you start. Schools allow differing limits on CLEP credits, but it may be the case that a 4 year college/university may accept more if they were a part of a community college associates degree. If you are bright and motivated (which you seem to be), this could be a great option to look into.

Don’t Repeat & Replace Obamacare
Repeal & Replace The Presumptive Nominee
Only A Popular Incumbent Will Defeat Mrs. Bill In 2016

I'm currently 26 & in college

I graduated in 2005 & I worked construction during the housing bubble. So because of this I decided to take a year off & work. I managed to save up 30k. I enjoyed building things but grew tired of being a construction laborer. I decided to go to college but had no idea what I wanted to study and my local community college had limited degree options. I went there for a year & took care of the basics like math, history, english, ect. One thing about taking a leapyear off is that you forget things quickly. I had taken precalculus as a junior in high school, but I only placed into algebra 2 on the college placement test. The material was a breeze to cover but I was forced to waste some semesters taking math classes. I'm certain I could have placed higher on the tests if the material was fresh in my mind, but I had forgotten some of the material over the years and all it took was being seeing the idea again just once in order to remember. Make sure you review your math if you take a year off.
I was able to use my saved up money to pay for 2 years of community college with a very tight budget & cheap rent. I received an IT degree & in the last semester of college I was given an internship with the County. I ended up being offered a job to do tech support for all County offices from the Fire Dept, to the Mayor's office, to Wastewater Treatment. This was in 2009 & the County budget office was doing severe cutbacks including furloughing all public school teachers one day a month & cancelling friday classes. I was initially offered a 6month contract that expired on new years. I was told that budgeting was too tight to rehire, so I got a private sector fulltime computer repair job. I was then told that the county was able to approve rehiring me, so I accepted that job part-time & began working 60 hours a week. If you get the right college education you will never have trouble finding employment.
After 7 months of this I felt that I had mastered my job & I wanted to move onto a more challenging field. I went back to college that August for electrical engineering. I had saved up money again, but this time it barely got me through 1 year. State university in the city was about 5 times as expensive as community college. I had earned about 35k during the year & so I found myself unable to get any kind of public or private aid. I was almost instantly poor again. I have since taken out loans because I am confident in my ability to make a living for myself. I also am confident in my ability to succeed & graduate with an engineering degree & I feel that I will be able to repay the minimal loans. I currently have more money in the bank than I have loans, & I plan on keeping it that way, the loans are more insurance than anything. What I found is that college aid is meant for you to be poor. Don't plan on taking a year off of college in order to save for college. If you go straight to college as a poor high schooler, then you will instantly be eligible for aid & if done right you can end the year without any debt. At the same time, working for a year will make you ineligible for aid & you will end your first year just as poor as if you had never worked. It was a sad feeling seeing all my hard earned money disappear instantly because I had worked hard for a year & thus was expected to pay full price. You can only be a "financially independent" college student if your parents are paying your full ride or you are wealthy.
So my advice is, take a year off & explore hobbies if you need to find an area of study that interests you. Going to community college is magnitudes cheaper & can be an amazingly cost effective way to get knowledge & applicable skills, and is a great place to learn a trade. Saving money for college will just cause you to be ineligible for all aid because of your nest egg, they won't give you any aid until you've been sucked dry. Federal aid is an amazing chunk of cash & can almost completely cover tuition (no housing or food). Don't feel bad about it, especially if you take a year off & work. You had to pay income tax while you were working, so you deserve that money back & one way of getting it is jumping through their eligibility loophole by going to college. Good Luck & sorry for the unrefined & unabridged post. I just wrote it from thought to fingers & it's been a very long last 2 weeks.

My Advise

Hey young one :) Here is my advise, I would not take a gap year. I know you say that you are not lazy, but it is VERY hard to return to school after taking time off. But, even if that was not an issue, it is still harder to return to school after taking time off. It is much better, for both your grades and for your mental well being, to stay in the "school" mode. You would be surprised at how quickly you can fall out of that routine and how much you will forget in one year.

So, the solution is to take the Federal Aid to pay for your first semester or save up enough money to pay for it yourself when the time comes. The cost of one semester is not that much and you can even stack your course schedule so that you would not have to pay it all at once...This will give more time to save up money that you will not have to borrow. However, it is important to get a job ASAP, if you do not already have one. Work your way through school, both college and high school. From my experience, those of us who worked through school made better grades and were better for it. (Don't buy into the BS that you cannot work and go to school, I worked 40+ hours a week and went to school full time and still graduated with a 4.0 GPA and top of my class).

You can pay off one semester of loans easily and will avoid all interest if you pay it off before graduating.

"When I say liberty I do not simply mean what is referred to as 'free enterprise.' I mean liberty of the individual to think his own thoughts and live his own life as he desires to think and to live..." - Robert A. Taft

Cyril's picture

Dear (young) OP, I have a good tip for you

Dear (young) OP, I have a good tip for you, if you'd feel like digging into the idea...

... you could actually become one of our future billionaires one day (in real money, hopefully), should you succeed, and here it is...

(and other lurkers might be interested, too ;-)

Find ways to produce energy, at much, MUCH lower costs than today's and, WITHOUT THE SHADE OF A DOUBT, than tomorrow's (and note: whether OR NOT sound money is reinstated by then):


See also:


And when I write "much lower cost" - I really mean it : MUCH, MUCH LOWER costs.

I suspect that'll become CRITICAL pretty soon (within a couple of decades only), per the above given, linked elements.

Critical for everybody.

"Cyril" pronounced "see real". I code stuff.


"To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study is dangerous." -- Confucius

After reading the comments..

There are two main themes. Either focus on what you want to do and find the lowest cost to attain your goals or use this time to see the world and figure it out.

You seem like a smart kid. I am personally going through this with my nephews. My sisters are always protective hens that do not understand what I am trying to expose my nephews to.

If I can only share one piece of advice.. it is to buck the system. Choose your own path on your own terms and do it responsibly. Look to the personal leaders in your own network and make a decision for yourself.

You are at an age where your decisions now can shape your future. In all honesty, take life by the short and curlies. You dont have to meld into the public idea of what is acceptable. None of the best leaders in history have done so. Do your best to be honorable and fly by the seat of your pants. At this point, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Believe me, at my age, I do not have this luxury.

Why go into debt now? It isnt like college is going anywhere! After one year of traveling, you will figure out where you fit into the equation. Even if you dont, you will be much better for it.

Escape the matrix and forge your own path. You will be amazed at how many people come to your defense when you choose to stand on your own feet.

If you do not know the path to take.. then seek it. Take my words like a grain of salt...

'Peace is a powerful message.' Ron Paul

^ What he said ^

Do that.

"There is only one kind of freedom and that's individual liberty. Our lives come from our creator and our liberty comes from our creator. It has nothing to do with government granting it." -Ron Paul


It is nice that you are thinking this out and not just following the crowd.

These are challenging times and important to stay alert because situations can change rapidly.

Good luck in your decision and future.

"We can see with our eyes, hear with our ears and feel with our touch, but we understand with our hearts."

What makes you itch?

Think long and hard about college? Do you need it?
Watch this:


I wish someone would have given me this advice 20 years ago!

If you plan on working over the summer - save your $$$ then go see the world. It is a big place.

Advice from a college grad and med student

College - It is a stepping stone, do it only if it accomplishes a career goal you have in mind. If you do not need to go to college to accomplish your career goal then don't go. The idea of going to college to explore what you want to do is not a good one.

If you do have a career goal that requires college my advice to you is go to college as soon as you can and begin working towards that. A career takes a long time to build especially one which requires a grad degree.

Type of college - If you are planning on something that requires a graduate degree, no one will care what undergrad you went. If you can accomplish your career goals with undergrad only the college name could matter. If that is the case I recommend community college than transferring into the school with the name later just to get a degree from there. If you want to do something requiring a grad degree the grad school matters for business and lawyers mostly. For medicine no one cares where you went to medical school.

On the issue of financial aid. If you are unable to pay for college yourself and need financial assistance and need a load, you will not be able to avoid federal education loans. Most (if not all) private loan sources force you to max out the Stafford loan prior to loaning any money to you. The only way around that is to try to find a friend or family member to go to.

My own experiences, I went to college for four years right out of high school. I wanted to study pre-med and had interest in economics. I graduated with a dual degree in biochemistry and economics. I then attended grad school in which I received full scholarship and stipend for a PhD in chemistry (the scholarship/stipend is the norm for chem PhDs). I left my program after 3 years got a masters and started medical school last year. Note that I am in my 9th year of education since high school. I have 2 years left to graduate with an MD, then essentially I am stuck in residency for 3-5 years, followed by a fellowship for 1-2 years (you get paid for residency and fellowship about 50-60K year as resident and 70-100K a year for fellowship, but keep in mind that loan payments will eat up a large portion of your salary during these years). So I will have a total investment of 15-19 years of post high school education before I am a full professional and not to mention more debt than I wish to mention. This is why I say to you if you have a career goal in mind go for it now, it gets harder to do as you get older. I love what I do and would do it again in a heartbeat.

just curious..

Dont you feel cheated? I admire your tenacity but am pissed at how much of your life you had to dedicate to get where you are.

'Peace is a powerful message.' Ron Paul

I love what I do, but yes at

I love what I do, but yes at times I do struggle with the length of the path. I will say I have a lot of respect for doctors because there is so much to know and you really have to know everything because no one is standing behind you. But regardless of that, 4 years of undergrad is a complete waste of time. The only reason why any med student goes to undergrad is because med schools require them to do it for screening and admission purposes. While you do need to know basic science for medical school I don't see why it can't be taught there.

In regards to medical education, a lot of is useful and is very specific, but honestly you learn so much that you forget everything once you are in your specialty. When you pick a specialty the residency learning curve is even greater and more intense then med school.

To me there seems to be a better way to do it. I look at physician assistants and nurse practitioners and how they are trained. Their graduate program is a total of 2 to 2.5 years followed by 0 residency. They go from their program to a real job (I'm jealous). They also can do pretty much everything a doctor does in the realm of general care. They can't be surgeons but other than that they can pretty much be involved in almost every field, although there are some where you need to be a DO or MD. So my advice to anyone who wants to be a doc is unless you need an MD or DO to do the particular care you want, do not go to medical school, rather go to PA school. A lot of people see PAs and nurse practitioners and have no idea that there is a difference. There is some arrogance among patients who are angry when they find out that the haven't seen an MD/DO, but seriously after 5-10 years of experience doing the same thing what is the difference a NP, PA or MD/DO?

But it is not just doctors that go through this and I signed up for it knowing what I was getting myself into and I would absolutely do it again. So many careers are like this. Like all careers, experience is king. The classroom will only give you background but until you apply it you have no idea what you are doing. It is just a shame that there is so much class room time involved for doctors.

You haven't said what you

You haven't said what you want to do for a career. Do you have any ideas?

That really changes what you should do now.

The important thing is, do something. Don't sit around and play video games.


I highly recommend using your time now to learn some valuable skills or trades, as well as building a good references. If I could start over, this is where my focus would be. Right now, "who you know" is more important than anything. Well, actually that's always been important I just never realized it until now because I was a moron.

I also love the opportunity that a CCNA or MCSE certification can get you. For a few hundred dollars (Books, tests) you can get a career that might pay around $40k to start, maybe a bit lower early on. But it tops out much higher than that. I don't know if you're technologically inclined but I believe it's a great place to start. I even did a YouTube video on it.

I also highly recommend taking a personality test! lol. I know it sounds funny, but those can help you understand your strengths and weaknesses and pick a path best for you. Don't let personal fears stop you from achieving your goals. If you have emotional issues, talk with someone about them until you start to resolve them. I know this is getting rather depressing, but young teens can let certain psychological issues get the best of them and it can make it difficult later in life to hold down a steady job. :(

Good luck, soldier.

(I wish I had Ron Paul and the DailyPaul when I was in High School..)

ohhhh ditto

I wish I also had Ron Pauls ideas and the DP community. ARRGGG

You need to have a career goal first

If you don't know what type of career you are working towards, then take some time to figure that out first. A lot of people make the mistake of using time in college to figure out what they want to do. That is often a very expensive mistake. You are much better off figuring out what you want to do for a career first, then choose an educational path that will get you to that goal. Having a career goal will help you pick the right college and degree. On the other hand, you may find out that college isn't something you need at all.

We all want progress, but if you're on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.

-C. S. Lewis


Forget college. Go out and develop real skills.
Live your life. Don't mess with college rip-off.
You can learn what YOU NEED when you need it.

Attend a Community College...

...for the first two years and then transfer as a junior to a 4-year. CC's are much cheaper and just as effective for your first two years provided you take it seriously. CC's have a better scheduling system than most 4-year schools do making it easier to work and pay your way through. Once you've transferred to a 4-year, load up on as many classes as you can and finish as soon as you can to save money. My wife and I are both professors at a CC and we've seen huge benefits to those that go that route.

In fact, in some states you can attend a CC while still in high school. Several programs here in California allow you to obtain your AA or AS degree and your high school diploma at the same time which means you could potentially graduate from a 4-year by the time you are about 20 years old. Look into it.

If you want to do the gap approach (though I recommend against it), I would put it after completing an AA/AS degree.

Cuimhnigh orm, a Dhia, le haghaidh maith.

I second this , you save so

I second this , you save so much more money. Attending a Community College is just logical. It is what I did and it works better than paying full tuition for the first 2 years of courses that most of us really don't need in the big picture anyway. Be sure to strongly consider doing this. Also when you know what you want to study in the 4 year school be sure to work with the university to know what classes will and will not be accepted from your Community college into the major at the Major University.

Unless you're pretty rich, this is just such a logical thing to do. Do studying into the various majors to know what major you want in the long run if you're ready to make a decision.

Break year sounds like a good Idea i took a break in the middle of school (sorta) and I'm due to graduate very soon. CC was a good idea after seeing these prices. Its starting to go from being just high costs to being a scam.. The books are a scam thats just a fact. They reprint books every year sometimes two wth barely a few words changed. CC is a better tradeoff.

save a few grand...

and hit the road.

Go around the country and see the sights. Meet interesting people.

I can tell you first hand, the best education I ever had was from traveling. It is amazing all the different sights and people you can experience once you get out there.

My favorite place in America is New Orleans. I have never felt more free anywhere else in America. The culture runs deep. There is art and music everywhere. It is a top tourist destination that draws people from all corners of the globe.

Pack a tent, some coolers and a weeks worth of clothing. I actually have hosted travelers on https://www.couchsurfing.org/ and met some interesting people.

If you are unsure what direction to take your education, use that time to figure it out.


'Peace is a powerful message.' Ron Paul

Works For Some People

My brother did exactly that too.

He drove around the country after high school and then went out and worked. College is a scam for so many people, and it just was not for him.

What I learned..

Is that there is much more to life than being a hamster on a wheel. Once you shrug off the norms and focus on what makes you happy, doors always open.

People respect and admire those that buck the system and take chances. I have no doubt this kid can make it in the real world. The trick is if he defines it for himself or hops on that wheel.

'Peace is a powerful message.' Ron Paul

What to do

Something that most people don't do is take some off time and see part of the world we live in.

After 18 years of being in High School, take time for yourself. Earn enough money to take a three week trip to somewhere you have never been.

Learn to appreciate the other people, customs and enjoyment of meeting others.

I think it is important before you have to settle down into a routine to have some time specifically for you and no one else.

Summer will be here in no time. Set aside some money for going somewhere in the US or Europe you have never been. When we make friends with people of other nationalities or places, we are less likely to want to do them harm. They are our friends and mostly, it is the governments that cause strife, not people.

See if there is someone that wants to do the same thing, Male or Female. Plan it out, adjust for rising costs and have 25% more money than you estimated you need.

Breaks like this are important..... When and if you finish college, or a technical school, do it again. Our brains and bodies need this time to unwind.

Hope this helps

I would advise looking into a trade school

Out of personal experience, I think this is the best way. Because of my high school slacker days, I didn't get into a good college- I didn't have the money or the grades. I did two years at a community college, and earned a general studies degree- good overall knowledge.

I then came across a massage therapy brochure. At a young age, the one thing I cultivated was a love for health. That's when I decide to go to massage therapy college. For $12,000, I came out with a degree/certificate which provided for an opportunity (see Michael Nystrom's comments).

I found a job at a PT place right out of school (99/00)which started at $22.50 plus health ins, plus cont ed $$, and retirement account- great job. That allowed me to work at a great rate and get ahead. Since then, I've opened my practice and am self-employed. I've spent maybe an additional $5,000 in cont. education on top of what my first employer paid for. For about $5,000 I specialized my work, so that even in Boulder, I have very little competition.

Trade schools allow you to learn something of value- I will never be without work as long as I have my arms and my health.

I am not saying that massage is right for you, but perhaps your family's business could use a: electrician, plumber, carpenter, life/business coach, psychotherapist (alternative schools like Naropa careful lotsa liberals).

My sister on the other hand, wanted to be a doctor. Went to a posh college, with a posh loan, and a posh degree mollecular biology, and is currently working as a massage therapist (because she listened to me in the gap year).

Between a $100,000 degree and her $15,000 massage certifcate (inflation) guess which one has been keeping her going? If I can only convince her of a move to Colorado again- I need a business partner.

In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.

I have worked for colleges for 8 years now

in Admissions, Financial Aid, Academic Advising and Registrar.

While you take a gap year try to take a few general education classes at your local community college that will transfer to a 4 year college (assuming that is your goal). The tuition prices are usually cheaper at community colleges, especially if you get in state rates. With your income you should be able to afford to take 2-3 classes a semester and pay in cash up front or a non-interest payment plan and still save towards a 4 year college.

Just my thoughts.

"Once you become knowledgeable, you have an obligation to do something about it."- Ron Paul

just take the federal aid and

just take the federal aid and invest in silver coins. after you get out of the dorm you will get your own housing, buy silver, don't rent a house. just take them for the silver. stack up silver. and disappear and default on your loans.


tasmlab's picture

Why the downvotes?

This is interesting advice for somebody brazen!

But really, even if you could scam $200K, it wouldn't be worth the whole disappearing thing. It's too trivial amount of money, and any larger amount might put a meaningful target on yours and your family's back.

Currently consuming: Morehouse's "Better off free", FDR; Wii U; NEP Football

200 thousand is not trivial

200 thousand is not trivial to me. i'm glad you guys have wealth. the economy i'm at right now is still able to hire me, which is a blessing. but i learned 9,000 dollars can get me 15 acres of land in a very nice place. 4,000 can get me 5 acres. and i really want to garden and grow exotic fruits. that is wealth to me.

a minimum wage job holds promise still, in America.

but why not take cisco router classes while milking the system of silver coins, and just find something under the table where he can make a friend who is a network engineer? he can keep stacking silver if he learns a skill. I think it's better to work under the table. Live out of the system, if you have kids, have a midwife and don't tell the hospitals, don't tell the government. go to city council meetings and agree to take back the roads and manage the roads themselves. get property taxes eliminated, get public schools eliminated.

just don't put any more people in the system. at least they won't have social security numbers.


i down-voted my comment

i down-voted my comment because 2 already had. it was my own psy-op too, that garnered a response and sympathy. thank you.


maybe i have had a bitter

maybe i have had a bitter experience acquiring a degree. It only takes a couple people who hate you from preventing your having a career. i lost respect for the system that punishes the behaviour of learning languages that were not taught in school, and having a low g.p.a., while maxing out on c.l.e.p. credits, just so that you have a promised career coming out of the gate, so only the piece of paper mattered.

my plans hinged on a singular entry into a career, with five rudimentary languages having been acquired.

but that person reneged and backstabbed me. it only takes one person to f*ck up your life.

i couldn't even find fast food after that. i wandered homeless for the next 3 years.

so whoever is downvoting me, F*CK U, i was reading a book a night and foregoing fornication. you were the muck at my feet.


rinse and repeat. maybe take

rinse and repeat. maybe take classes about cisco routers, and find an employer who will pay you under the table. disappear from the system. stack up silver with those student loans.