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The UnCollege Blog

Should I Take Time Off Before College?

Applying to college comes with a lot of difficult choices. From choosing the right schools to deciding your course of study, the list of daunting decisions can be long. Once you get your final list of acceptance letters, the job doesn’t get any easier. So what should you do once you get accepted to college? Should you jump right in? If not, what should you do?

Stop, Think, Review

The last thing you want to do is rush your decision. Make sure you understand all of your options before choosing to act. Since there are so many facts and figures to understand, you have to ask yourself where you will be “happy, healthy, and able to grow.” Gather your list of schools, scholarships, and financial aid, and compare them against what you’re looking for.

Should I Defer?

If you feel that college isn’t quite right yet, that’s more than okay. Taking time off doesn’t have to be idle. Programs such as gap years might imply that “students are taking a gap in their education, when really the gap is to fill in what they haven’t learned in school.” Gap years offer the opportunity to travel, do community service, and generally understand your true interests in a way that high school and college might not be able. In fact, many people find that taking a gap year can help ease the financial burden that college presents, allowing you to work and save more money.

Though there are plenty of success stories about students choosing the right school for them, there are also a growing number of similar stories about students who took gap years. In a 2012 Time Magazine article, Amy Huynh decided to defer her admission to Colby College for a year so she could mentor and teach students in Los Angeles. For her, the decision was two-fold: on one hand, she wanted to better understand herself and her passions, while on the other, she wanted to work and save money for her subsequent expenses at Colby. She knew college was still an opportunity available to her, so taking a gap year would be a better experience.

Make a Choice

This might be the hardest step of all. Whether you choose to take a gap year or immediately enroll in college, making the choice can be tough. In some cases, students know right away which college is right for them. But for most, making the final choice about the next step after high school requires a lot of thinking, talking, and understanding. Financial aid might be a deciding factor, just as academics, social life, athletics, or location will play an important role in the decision.

Don’t Forget About High School

Though you’ve gotten to the final stretch of making your college decision, that doesn’t stand as an opportunity to forget about high school. This affliction, commonly known as “Senioritis”, infects many students after the college decision deadline passes. Your academics and extra-curriculars might not feel as important anymore, but colleges can rescind acceptances if you let things slip.

Be Happy

Once you do make your decision to defer or go to college, be proud of your accomplishments. It’s not an easy process to complete, and the next step is bound to be a great one. Get ready to grow and experience new things, regardless of which decision you make.