The UnCollege Blog

Gap Year Profile: Karla Quintanilla And Taking Second Chances

Untitled design (7)-3.pngWhen Karla did not get accepted to her dream school, she was devastated and did not know what her next move would be. Her parents gave her a week to pick one of three options. She went with the option of taking a gap year and using it for self-discovery and reapplying to college. In our #MeetCohort12 series, we talk to her to find out more about her background, her decision to pursue a business major instead of a music major, and how she hopes to incorporate music in her life.

UnCollege: What were you like growing up? What was your town like?

IMG_1640.jpgKarla: I lived in Monterrey, Mexico up until I was 11 years old. I grew up in a city surrounded by factories and ongoing traffic. My whole family lived close to each other, so my evenings consisted of playing with my little cousins. I was the cousin the kiddos entertained and the performer of the house. My teachers always said I had tons of charisma and leadership qualities. I was raised in the beautiful culture of Mexico that until this day I keep sharing with other people.

I moved to Boston, Massachusetts when I was in sixth grade, the culture shock was unbelievable. I came from a warm and loud environment to a freezing, noiseless atmosphere. Learning a new language and culture was life changing. I became involved in performing arts activities, and that's how I found my passion. I performed in plays, musicals, and acapella groups. I think that living in Massachusetts has been the best phase of my life.

My sophomore year of high school, I moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania. This was a tough move because I had settled so well in Massachusetts. I moved to a rigorous academic school with a competitive arts department with a 3,000 student body. I was forced to get outside my comfort zone by moving here. I became depressed because it was hard to maintain high grades and I was being rejected from every show I auditioned for. I kept my head high, and I finally settled into this very harsh school. I became heavily involved in the art department, and I challenged myself to do better in school. By the time I graduated, I was involved in 4 honor societies, and I was part of amazing musical productions. The change wasn't so bad after all.

What’s your stance on school or what are your favorite and least favorite parts about school?

To me, school is a personal and social experiment. Let's be honest; school is not for learning the Pythagorean theorem and Newton's laws. In fact, the academic aspect is what matters least in the long run.

School is mostly about self-discovery and social experimentation, and it is essential to experience it during your young adult years. You're free to dabble in whatever subject and extracurricular activity you want. You get to know other people and their life perspective. School is a mix of people with different personalities, values, and skills. You create your persona based on your choices and people you surround yourself with. School is also filled with stress, pressure, and unreasonable expectations, but that's just part of growing up.

What do you like to do during your free time?

During my free time, I love to watch youtube videos and watch movies with my boyfriend. I like watching beauty tutorials because I am a big makeup enthusiast. Tyler and I's second home is the movie theater. We go to the movies almost once a week. Our personal favorite is La La land.

What led you to take a gap year?

After I received my letter of rejection from my dream school, University of Toronto, I decided that taking a gap year might be the best option for me. I had my safety school, Hartford University, a great music school but I realized I wasn’t really ready to commit to the university life. I needed a year off the education system. Some people call it a year off, but in reality, it's a year on. I deferred at Hartford so that in case all else fail, I could still go back to that.

I didn't realize that there was an option to take a gap year until I got rejected from school and I was clueless about what I wanted to do. The majority of high school graduates do not take a year off school. This could be due to society’s norm, that high school prepares you for college, and therefore you must go to college right after high school. It just makes sense. Thankfully I found UnCollege through a TED talk.

I also decided to switch my major. I was going to pursue vocal performance, but I didn't realize the instability of that career. I will be pursuing my second interest which is business. I plan to apply to a business school in the fall of 2018.

How did your parents respond?

My parents were upset that I applied to only a few schools, three out of the seven being my dream schools. The acceptance outcomes proved their point that it was better to have applied to more schools. This was the first time that they and I experienced the college application process. They were understanding and flexible about the situation, and I'm very grateful for it. We were all clueless. At the end of my senior year, I was lost, and they gave me a week to decide on one of the following options:

1. I attend my safety school and major in vocal performance.

2. I take a gap year to reapply and prepare for other music schools, and take general ed. classes.

3. Change my major. Attend a gap year program. Work over the summer to pay for part of the program and re-apply to a lot of business schools.

My head told me that I should do what I had been planning all these years but my heart told me that I am better off taking a step back and think things through, and for that reason, I decided to go for option 3 even if it was outside my comfort zone.

Where does your choice to pursue business place your love for music?

Music is a huge part of my life. Although I do not plan to get a degree in music, I will always be involved in music for the rest of my life. I plan to be involved in the performing arts during my college years. I would also love to combine business and music in my future job. 

What are you most excited about going into UnCollege? (phase, element, etc.?)

I am super excited for the Launch phase in San Francisco. I want to meet people with the same mentality as me. I am particularly excited to learn from the UnCollege faculty.

What are your goals for the gap year?

My primary goal is to take advantage of every phase and learn as much as I can. I'd like to figure out the type of job that I would see myself doing in the future.

What’s your biggest fear going into the program?

My biggest fear is traveling to India by myself.

What's on your bucket list for India? And, what are you least excited about India?

Communicating with the people from India is on my bucket list. Breaking the language barrier will be  fascinating. I am least excited about the 18 hour flight. 

What is your favorite quote?

My favorite quote is from The Alchemist, a book that recently made a true impact in my life. Paulo Coelho writes, " When you want something all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. "

What’s your six-word story?

Oops sorry! Let's do it again.

Complete this sentence: In 5 years you will find me...

In 5 years, you will find me conquering the world with my love. Staying close to my family and God. 




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