Life After Graduation: Taylor's Story

My name is Taylor Burdiss. I am 18 years old and up until about the week before college move in-day, I had no idea what I was going to do with my life. This is my story about finding what was best for me.

During your senior year of high school, you are asked approximately one billion times what college you are going to. And, at 18 years old, you are asked to make your first life-changing decision. For me, it was not a question that I answered lightly. I was really unsure what was next because, well, decision-making has never been my strong suit. Starting in August of 2015, I applied to an upward of 20 schools, explored gap year programs, looked at different career paths, and prayed for one to feel right. I really liked the idea of a gap year; I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do when I grew up and knew a gap year would allow me the time and experiences to help figure it out.

About two years ago, I first began to hear of gap year programs. Students often go on gap years to explore the world, save money for college, or to take time figuring out what career path to follow. I had traveled to Haiti a few times and had interned with a nonprofit that focused on orphan care and orphan prevention ministry. I fell in love with it all. I’ve always had a heart for ministry and I knew a gap year would help me explore this more. I ended up spending most of the school year focusing on gap years rather than the idea of furthering my education right away. Besides my visit to Belmont, a smaller Christian college, I didn’t spend too much time looking at colleges. Throughout the process of applying for various gap years, the cost of it quickly began to seem unrealistic and near impossible for me. Taking a gap year just wasn’t in the cards for me due to high cost of the programs, but with the disappointment of that sinking in, it helped me recognize the value of a college degree.

My internship over my senior year also opened my eyes to a form of ministry I had never considered going into for myself - job creation. Combining the things that I loved most, I began to explore the idea of starting a coffee roastery sourced out of Haiti, giving all the profits back to job creation and teaching employable skills. While this idea of wanting to own a social enterprise sounded great, I knew that I would need a college education and business connections to make it successful. After thoroughly weighing all my options, I decided the smartest decision for myself and my future was to go away to school right away.

Having decided so late to attend a university, I had to quickly scramble to figure out which college to attend based on finances, available roommates, and the scholarships that were even still available, all the while having to prepare emotionally and physically for moving away from home. After considering those things, I decided that the University of Arkansas seemed to be the best fit for me. They have an excellent business school, (thank you Walmart), is conveniently located four hours away, and offers in-state tuition for Missouri students. In the world we live in today, a college degree is highly valued and I believe is necessary to be successful at owning a social enterprise.

Deciding to go to the University of Arkansas instead of Haiti was one of the biggest decisions I’ve made thus far. But I also think it was the best. Having the option and choosing not to go to Haiti has made me value my education all the more, and given me the ability to see more clearly what is to come with a college degree.