Taking a Year Off Before College: Pros and Cons

I remember being a high school senior who was anxiously awaiting to go to college. I was young – Just 17 years old. Although I was the baby in my grade, I didn’t mind much. I knew that I needed to go to college if I was going to make something of myself.  Besides, everyone else was going and our school counselors were pretty adamant about it. I can’t blame them… They knew that going to college often meant having new opportunities and a better salary.

Maybe that’s why there was so much concern for those students who were considering taking a year off before going to college.

I guess I didn’t understand at the time why someone would want to take time off. Why wouldn’t they just want to get it over with? Looking back, I’m starting realize how crucial that year can be for those individuals who truly have no idea what they want to do with their lives. It becomes even more important for students who are paying their own way through college and didn’t get enough financial aid to cover all the expenses that come along with a higher degree.

Taking a year off before college: pros and cons

Taking a Year Off Before College: The Pros

If you had asked me to make a list of the positive reasons for taking time off after high school, I probably couldn’t have listed more than one or two things. Thankfully, I’ve learned a lot over the past decade about not just college, but adulthood, career choices, and everything in-between. Here are some of the pros to taking a year off before college:

  • More time to save money to pay for school (because trust me, student loans suck)
  • Opportunities to get work experience
  • More time to consider which college you want to go to
  • Ability to look into different careers, take career assessments, and find your true interests
  • An extra year of bonding time with your family as an adult
  • Able to get tutoring for any classes that may have been a struggle in high school
  • Networking opportunities
  • Time to find and apply for scholarships

Now the Cons

Taking a year off before college can also have negative effects:

  • If you aren’t actively engaged in studying, you may forget the material you learned in high school which means you may have to take additional courses in college
  • You may lose out on some financial aid options (consult with schools you’re interested in to discuss details)
  • Your friends from high school may all have gone off to college, leaving you with no one to hang out with
  • You may try to prolong your higher education even more than a year because you begin to feel like you’ll never really be ready
  • You’ll be behind your friends by a year once you do decide to enroll in college
  • Motivation may get lost along the way
  • Your family may begin to nag you about when you’re going back to school
  • Although you may find it job, it probably won’t be a glamorous one since you haven’t gotten a college degree, or at least some higher education credits, yet.

Taking a Year Off Before College: Is It Right for You?

I really wish I could give you a clear answer as to whether you should take a year off before college or not, but the reality is that only you can make this decision for yourself. Look at not only your maturity, but your financial situation, need for a social life, career education requirements, and so on. I encourage you to create your own pros and cons list to help you organize your thoughts and see which option is truly the best.

Remember, you may never feel entirely ready to go to college. That’s okay! If it’s something you want to do, don’t be afraid to take a step of faith and act on your desire to get a degree.

Finished college? What advice would you give to those who are trying to weigh the pros and cons here?

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  • rowan
    February 20, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I wish I had your blog when I was in my teens! Such useful info

  • Lindsey@Kindred Spirit Mommy
    February 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I took a year off after high school and it pretty much bored me out of my mind. I loved learning, though. 🙂 And I was homeschooled so it wasn’t like I was getting more time with my family. haha

    • Tori
      February 20, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Lindsey! I think that being homeschooled would definitely play a factor.

  • Nancy
    February 20, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    I didn’t take a year off, but I went to school immediately, didn’t know what the heck I was doing – so I started working part time (quit university to save to go to a smaller college) and worked full time until I decided on what I wanted to do.

  • Claire
    February 20, 2015 at 10:15 pm

    I highly recommend going straight to college! Time off makes it harder to go. If you are looking at a traditional University you may seem out of place if you take a year off and everyone else goes straight to college…

  • ananda
    February 20, 2015 at 11:34 pm

    i went straight to college, but if i can do it again, i would totally take a year (or more) off, there are so many wonderful adventures out there like wwoofing, traveling, starting a blog, …