College? . . . Am I Ready?

Is taking a year off between high school and college really such a bad idea? With all the parental pressure, peer pressure, and school pressure urging high school seniors to immediately proceed to a college campus following graduation, you would think it was a crime; however, I personally think it may better prepare a teenager for college.

I truly feel a year off between high school and college is a great idea, as long as that year is spent interning, traveling abroad, or working in a related field. If a student simply plans to take the year off and become a couch potato, then a year off is probably not a good idea. But, for those students who are passionate about life and want to use a year off to better themselves, it could be amazing.

Taking a year off could benefit a student in two important ways. First, the time off would allow the student to learn who she is and what she desires to do with the rest of her life. Secondly, taking a year off offers the student a chance to learn about the world outside of the school walls and gain life experiences that will change that student for the better.

Interning in a field that a student might possibly want to work in after college is a great idea. For instance, if a student thinks she would like to go to college to become a fashion stylist, it would benefit that student to intern with a professional stylist for a year and learn firsthand what it takes to be a successful stylist. At the end of that year, the student will know whether or not fashion styling is something she wants to pursue for a career, and if it is, she will be able to approach her fashion styling major with new found excitement and direction. Interning provides a student the chance to figure out if that is really something she wants to do for the rest of her life. If not, then she just saved herself a lot of confusion and “major changing” in college.

My sister Allyson is the perfect example why interning and exploring one’s desired profession is crucial before investing time and money into it. Ally had once aspired to become a fashion designer, but this past summer she went to California to get a taste of what it would be like to design for companies, and it turns out she didn’t enjoy it as much as she thought she would. Instead Allyson has decided she would rather be a fashion stylist, which is where she would put the outfits together just not make them. If Allyson had not had these intern-type experiences this past summer, she would have declared the wrong major and cost herself a lot of money and time.

Many students realize that taking a year off between high school and college may be the only time they will ever have to travel abroad. They realize after college graduation, most students will get a full time job in their field and many times, they will get married and encounter family obligations that would make traveling abroad almost impossible. So they just go for it and take the year to encounter different cultures.

Personally, I think this is a great idea. This past summer I went to Italy for almost three weeks, and it was a great growing and learning experience for me. The trip helped me become more mature, and it forced me to become more independent and self assured, which will benefit me when I am on my own at college. In addition, I found the trip to be very educational. Learning a vast amount of history and experiencing cultural diversity forever changed me. It was a crash course in art appreciation, foreign language, and public relations. Imagine if those three weeks had been an entire year?

Another way to spend the year off is working—especially if that student can work in a field related to her future area of study in college. A student who works in a related field will gain life experiences that will make her college classes more interesting and relative.

For example, if a student plans to pursue a career in elementary education, it would be excellent for that student to work in a daycare or possibly at the Boys’ Club or Girls’ Club. Interacting with children will not only look great on a college application, but also it will reinforce the reason this student is pursuing a degree in elementary education. In addition, working during this year off will allow students to make money to put toward their education, as well as give them a taste of the real world. In other words, if a student spends a year flipping burgers for a living, going to classes in college will mean more because that student knows that a college diploma will open up doors so she will never have to flip burgers again.

There are just so many benefits to taking the year off, including: growing as a person, discovering what one really wants to do, gaining invaluable life experiences, and getting a taste of the real world. So when you are debating about going to college, please consider all of these aspects. Taking a year off between high school and college might be the best option for you.

Related online sites:

http://www.transitionsabroad.com/publications/magazine/0603/the_gap_year_advantage.shtml

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/14/business/14year.html

http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Gap_Year_Taking_Time/


ABBY ADAMS

Seventeen-year-old Abby Adams is an outgoing high school senior who is known for her infectious laugh and charismatic personality. As a cheerleader and gymnast for the past seven years, she plans to try out for cheerleader in college next year. Abby not only enjoys participating in cheer leading, but also she loves coaching it. She is currently the Cheer Coach for a middle school cheer team in southern Indiana and a gymnastics teacher at the local Girls Club.

Abby serves as Vice-president of her senior class and excels in leadership. She plans to pursue a career in elementary education at either Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky or Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky. (read more…)

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