Many students take temporary leave, return later to get degrees

By By U Wire

By U Wire

OVIEDO, Fla.?In 2000, 28 percent of freshmen entering public colleges did not return for their second year.

In the same year, only 42 percent of the students in public colleges graduated within five years, according to educational research by ACT Inc. Some students may prolong school to pursue dreams in music, acting or traveling.

Dan Watson, a University of Central Florida business major, dropped out after his freshman year at Seminole Community College to join a band. After one audition, Watson joined Myth vs. Reality as its lead guitarist.

Watson said: “I hadn’t done anything serious, so I was like, ‘why not?’ So many opportunities were rising for the band that I decided to drop out of school.”

Watson took his guitar and the band to Nashville, where it hoped to break into the Christian music scene. After the trip relationships in the band began to sour.

“We were going through musicians like toilet paper,” Watson said. “After three or four months the newness wears off and you start seeing how much band members want success.”

The band broke up and Watson went back to school after a one-year absence. Watson, 23, said he wished he had stayed in school because he now views education as a tool to fall back on.

“You need school no matter what,” Watson said.

Melanie Parker, director of UCF’s Career Resource Center, said Watson did what she calls “stopping out”?Watson interrupted his education.

“If stop-out students choose to come back, they bring more experience,” Parker added.

Watson said he became more experienced in networking with people after playing with the band.

“I’m using it even to this day,” he said. “You don’t necessarily have to have a degree to pursue some fields,” Parker said. “To be successful, one must be committed to lifelong learning.”