College is a big transition for many students. High school and college are two completely different creatures, and it’s not unusual for many high school graduates to not feel completely ready for the social and academic rigors of college. Many students will choose to take a gap year between graduating from high school and the start of college.
A gap year can be a good idea for many students. Students who don’t know exactly what they want to do for a career can benefit from a gap year. Although the first year of college typically involves general education requirements, there is little point in wasting a lot of time and money on college courses if you aren’t sure exactly what you are there for. It is quite possible to end up with units that don’t count for anything if you go on a completely different track.
Taking a gap year can help a person solidify what they are going to do in college. The gap year can be spent working, travelling, or a combination of both. Often it only takes a little time and experience to figure out what you want to do when you get to college.
A gap year before college can also be helpful for students who are going to have a hard time paying for school. A gap year allows a student and the family to have a little extra time to save up the money to pay for college. College is notoriously expensive, even at state universities. There is much to be said for having the student work for a bit and save up the money for some of the classes and he or she will take later.
There are some students who are just not mature enough to survive in college immediately after they graduate. College life is very different than high school. In college, no one cares if you don’t go to class. There are a million distractions that can keep you from getting your work done. No one is going to be there to hold your hand and make you do the work.
Many students don’t handle the lack of structure in college very well. A gap year can often help a student gain a little age and wisdom (usually it is just a little) that can be used to survive at the next level. This isn’t always the case, but there are certainly students who benefit from the extra time off.
There are no hard and fast rules on when to take a gap year before college. Each student has to decide for themselves if it is worth taking the time. Life isn’t a race though – if there is any reason why you fell you may benefit from time off, take it. The school will still be there next year.