Seniors next steps

Rachel Weathers and Hailey Paddock, Memorial Editor and Staff Writer

As this school year comes to an end, many graduates have been contemplating life after high school. There are numerous directions to take when entering adulthood; from in-state college to schooling abroad or even taking a gap year. Edmond Memorial seniors are taking full advantage of the variety of options.

Memorial senior Celina Zhao is one of the rare students going to an ivy league school. Although she said that “Ivy League” was not her goal, Yale stood out to her due to the school’s quality of education and the driven students. Her sister attended Yale for an undergraduate degree and this gave her a push to test the waters there.

“I was mainly looking for the school I felt best fit my personality and academic goals and Yale happened to be in this specific group of universities,” Zhao said.

Zhao is planning on majoring in political science on a pre-medical track, while also involving herself in the student government and photography for the Yale Daily News. She had to work hard to keep up her GPA and kept herself busy outside of school activities like Youth and Government and internships.

“Yale is the right fit for me academically because they have a great liberal arts core curriculum, which I love but they also provide a certain amount of freedom in choosing your first year classes,” Zhao said.

When senior year begins, many see college or trade school as their next step. However, those are not the only options and after years of constantly being in school, some wish to take some time off. Gap years can lead to personal growth and improved mental health. During this time, some travel, find a job or figure out plans for their continued education.

Senior Samantha Brumley intends to take a gap year following graduation as a way to recharge after high school and create her own path.

“The last couple of years in high school have been draining and I didn’t want to continue to strain myself with more school. I figured my mental health is more important than societal norms,” Brumley said. “Every college kid I’ve talked to, who has gone straight into school, has told me they wish they would’ve taken a gap year. Knowing myself, I’d rather do my own thing and be content compared to following expectations and regretting my decisions.”

Taking a gap year allows one to explore other opportunities and gain new experiences before going into college or a profession. Brumley hopes to spend her gap year traveling before returning home and eventually taking college classes.

“Over the summer after graduation, I plan on working to save up enough money to travel. My goal is to take a road trip around the entire US,” Brumley said. “I’m hoping to leave in early fall and I’m limiting myself to May 2022.”

A gap year can give one time to discover more about themselves and help them figure out what they want to pursue in the future. For those that want to go to college following their gap year, this time can give them the space to solidify those plans.

“After the gap year, hopefully, I’ll have an idea of what I would want to do and go to college for. This way I can save up to continue to travel during the summer and will eventually earn a college degree,” Brumley said.

While deciding where to go to college many students look to schools that are in their state or neighboring ones. However, some want to venture further and go abroad for their entire time in college. This can be the choice for those who wish to travel or are looking to immerse themselves in other cultures.

Senior Emma Willhoite has ruled out universities in the United States and is now only considering colleges abroad. One factor for this is that Universities in Britain are often significantly cheaper than those in America.

“I looked for colleges in the UK because I’ve always been interested in traveling and going to college out of the country is surprisingly cheaper than going out of state,” Willhoite said. “I did consider some colleges in America, but they were a lot more expensive so that solidified my decision to go overseas.”

Attending university abroad presents many academic opportunities and the chance to study in an entirely new environment. One university that Willhoite is considering is of the top 100 universities in the world for life sciences.

“The colleges I’m considering are Keele in England which has a beautiful campus and it’s pretty small. The other University is Glasgow in Scotland, which is a big university in the largest city in Scotland,” Willhoite said. “I’m planning on majoring in Biochemistry if I go to the University of Glasgow and Biomedical Sciences if I go to Keele University.”

College allows one to meet many different people from various places no matter where they go and attending a school in another country enables one to learn about a new culture.

“Going to college overseas will present new opportunities to me because universities in Europe are more diverse than in America and I’ll become friends with people from all over the world and learn about a lot of different cultures,” Willhoite said.

Wrapping up one’s final year of high school may be an overwhelming experience for some, but it is interesting to see the different pathways they may take. Whether they are going to an ivy league school, going abroad, or even taking a gap year, there are options available to meet everyone’s needs.


Contact Rachel Weathers and Hailey Paddock at [email protected]