Spend Time, Save Money: Benefits to Taking a Year Off Before College
It’s common for students to be encouraged to attend their post-secondary education immediately after graduating high school. However, there are good reasons for waiting a year before going to college or university — called a gap year — which can mean your post-secondary experience will be more enjoyable when you do go.
Save Money and Research Scholarships
One of the most important considerations is money. While there are lots of financial aid options available for students to attend trade school, college, or university, post-secondary education can still be expensive and not every student will have enough money to afford to go immediately after high school. Even if you have enough to cover tuition, whether from family, loans, or other sources, you will still need to pay for living expenses and have personal spending money.
Taking a gap year can give you the opportunity to get a full-time job and work to save money to prepare for your eventual education. This can mean being able to either not work at all during the school year, or working fewer hours, giving you more time to focus on your studies.
Another good use of your time during a gap year is to research and identify which scholarships you are eligible for, and plan your applications. This way, you will be able to find the scholarships that are most suitable for you and your education goals, and make sure that you have all the necessary information for when it comes time to fill out the applications.
If you decide you want to take a gap year after already applying, or being accepted, to your schools of choice, make sure to confirm that the schools will accommodate students taking a year off. This is called deferring your acceptance. It’s also important to make sure that any awards, grants, or scholarships you may already have been awarded will also accommodate a deferment, so that you won’t lose out on any money.
Decide On Your Program
Another way in which a gap year can be beneficial is that it gives you time to figure out exactly what you want out of your post-secondary education, including whether you want to attend a college or university program, and what you want to study. Not every student finished high school one-hundred-percent certain about what they want to study, or what they want their future career to be.
While it’s not obviously a money-saver, taking the time to be sure of your direction means it is less likely that you will start a program that doesn’t fit and end up changing your program after a few semesters — which would cost more money if it results in additional semesters or years of schooling.
A gap year even gives you the opportunity to seek out jobs and volunteer work in fields you’re interested in, either to try them out to see if they are a good fit, or to gain some experience that will help you in your future studies and in choosing a career path.
There are lots of other reasons to take a gap year. You may not feel ready to go off to college or university, you may want to travel, or you may have family obligations. In the end, the important thing to remember is that taking a gap year isn’t just for fun; you should have a purpose for doing so, and a plan for what you will do about school when it comes to the end of the year.