Cohort 12 - Nick - Hike - Peru

The UnCollege Blog

Why I Chose UnCollege Gap Year


Meet Chance, an UnCollege Fellow from Cohort 9:

From a small farm town in Illinois to having revelations about life, business, and learning in Brazil on his Voyage, Chance’s UnCollege Gap Year was rooted in one lesson: there is no such thing as a single right answer.

Turns out, the emphasis on searching for a single right answer is something that the education system gets wrong, and is an idea Chance sought to break away from when he embarked on his UnCollege experience with dreams of launching a business. “I had always thought about starting a business and I had no idea what that involved or entailed when I was in high school,” he said, noting that in his hometown, students typically either went to college to study something related to agriculture, or skipped the traditional collegiate path to go into farming. Although he respects the hometown profession, neither farm-based option was the path he wanted, but he did have something in common with his high school peers. Chance assumed business school was the best way to put his business savvy into practice. “College feels very forced where I'm from — the thought of becoming successful without going to college isn’t a common one,” he observed. 

Chance admits that he wasn’t the most dedicated student in high school, but college did little to spark his creativity or ambition. “I wasn’t the most focused kid ever,” Chance said, explaining that he didn’t do due diligence in his college search, and split his time between playing video games in his dorm room and trying to drum up motivation to attend classes he just didn’t like. Despite having an idea of the business he wanted to start since high school, Chance’s college experience was an unfulfilling one: “Halfway through the year I started looking for alternatives.”

Enter UnCollege. In addition to Voyaging in Brazil, where he was confronted with a culture crash-course that changed his perspective, Chance saw UnCollege as a launching pad for more than his business ideas. "The main focus of the gap year for me was my business idea but it was really a mix of that and working on personal things I needed to get better at, like goal-setting and building habits.” Whereas during his freshman year, Chance never learned to budget his time, fascinating opportunities happening at his internship with a new small business meant he felt compelled to get organized, manage his time, and zero in on what mattered to him: “I think I got more concrete skills taking this gap year than I did in my first year of college.”

“We’re not as creative because we’re in this system that makes you look for the right answer all the time,” Chance said, observing that his belief that there is no sole right answer is the biggest thing he’s learned throughout his gap year. Learning hands-on, sans required classes and plus experiencing the beginning stages of how a company operates, was the key to Chance unlocking his goals. That was the most significant appeal of UnCollege, in fact—“we’ll teach you what you want to learn.”

As for whether the next phase of Chance’s learning includes college? He lets Jack White of the White Stripes answer that one, noting that, when feeling creatively blocked, the guitarist puts confines on himself, such as only using the top half of the guitar or only playing certain cords. The idea was to stimulate out-of-the-box thinking, something Chance is employing in his own education: “My confinement is I’m not going back to college. I’m forcing myself to make something of my life without going back to school.” Though he might take a course he’s interested in, Chance says he has no plans to be a full-time student again. Instead, he’s going to chase the feeling he experienced on his Voyage: “You see things completely differently.”