First Hand Experiences: George Singler

September 22, 2017

Gap year supporters also say taking time off from school may help clarify what path students want to pursue at all. That clarity can provide a big benefit regardless of the decision, either saving students money in what could have been wasted tuition or fueling their motivation and excitement to return to school and pursue a given career.

NHS sponsor George Singler said he took a gap year and a half because he felt it was time for him to spread his wings.

“It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to school anymore, but I didn’t have a burning desire to go to school at that time,” Singler said. “I was done with school. I had done it for 14 years and I was ready for a break. There were also a lot of life changes going on for me. College just wasn’t appealing to me at that time.”

Once he decided to go back, however, Singler said his transition was great.

“I wanted to go back,” Singler said. “After a year and a half of not being in a classroom, it was great to be back in it. Just the conversations, the intellectual stimulation, as silly as it sounds, the homework, doing the papers, the research. I needed to miss it again before I kept doing it, otherwise the rest of my college career would’ve been for nothing.”

Unlike Reeder and Marshall, however, Singler thinks that not only the option of taking a gap year but any options outside of going straight to college should be more discussed.

“It’s different now than it was when I was your age,” Singler said. “When I was your age, a college degree meant something. But now, so many people have degrees. I think there’s this trend of getting a college degree just to get a college degree.”

He said it is worth considering different options, especially with the ever-increasing cost of college.

“I think there’s this stigma that’s just so absolutely wrong out there nowadays, that if you’re not going to Baylor, you’re not going to Tech, you’re not going to UT, that you’ve somehow failed,” Singler said. “That is so wrong. If you’re going to Baylor, and no offense to Baylor, and it’s, I don’t know, 40 grand a year, and if your parents are paying, that’s $160,000 in four years. To put that in perspective, we bought our house in Frisco 15 years ago for $160,000, and we had 20 years to pay for it.”

He also said it matters less and less where students go to college.

“Nobody’s ever asked me in a professional interview where I went to school,” Singler said. “I never didn’t get a job because I didn’t go to a particular university. My son’s going to pay about $3,000 for his first two years of school. Somebody that goes to Baylor is going to pay $60,000. There’s no difference in that college education in my opinion.”

Singler said educators and counselors have made a mistake of driving the youth straight to college after graduation.

“I think we do a huge disservice to you guys,” Singler said. “Go to college when you’re ready to go to college, because there is a maturity that goes on. And the thing is, when you go to college, you need to be an adult. It’s not high school extended.”

He also believes students should take on responsibility outside of just going to school.

“I know people who have gone to A&M on mom and dad’s nickel, and they think it’s a big deal because they’re taking 15 credit hours and that’s all they’re doing,” Singler said. “So what. Big deal. Get a job and go to school. That shows me that you’ve got some character. Just the idea that you’re attending school, that doesn’t mean anything to me.”

He said working while going to school gives college a deeper meaning.

“When I went to college, I also worked 40 hours a week,” Singler said. “If I did not pass a class, it was my $4,000 that was going to waste. Not my parent’s, not some scholarship money, I just blew my four grand. And I sincerely believe if you pay for something yourself, it means a lot more.”

Singler said he thinks options outside of a four year college is something more students should consider.

“I think it’s a conversation that should be had constantly,” Singler said. “I think that conversation needs to be held, that ‘by the way, it’s ok if you decide to go to trade school and become a mechanic. You can be very successful. And by the way, there’s a good chance you can be successful sooner in life than if you go get your degree.’ There’s this huge misperception about go to college. Cause. I’m not a fan of it. I’m probably in the minority too, I’m guessing.”

More than anything, however, Singler said character is what’s important.

“Right now, a four year degree in the world outside doesn’t mean an awful lot,” Singler said. “It really doesn’t. Who you are and what you do does matter.”

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