5 Advantages to Taking a Year Off Before Going to College

5 Advantages to Taking a Year Off Before Going to CollegeTaking a year off before going to college, commonly called having a gap year, is an old European tradition that more students in the United States are starting to appreciate. Just in case you thought that your ideal college will look down on a gap year, think again. A Forbes article described that ” … colleges and universities such as Princeton, Tufts, Oberlin, etc. are beginning to offer scholarships and financial assistance for students to take a gap year: to travel, to volunteer or to complete an internship.” Here are five top advantages of taking some time off before college that you should consider:

1. You get more time to apply for scholarships and save money for school.

For the first time ever, you can work full-time for more than six consecutive months. By working during your gap year, you’ll build up a good investment for the numerous college expenses that you’re about to face. Plus, so many unclaimed scholarships are just waiting for your discovery.

2. You can take an epic vacation to clear your head about the future.

After you graduate from high school, you have the least amount of responsibilities that you’re ever going to have in your life. That’s why so many recommend traveling abroad at this time to discover who you really are and who you want to become. It’s more than just taking time to settle on a major; it’s a moment to focus on your biggest goals in life to save yourself years of regret later. In the process, you’ll become more confident and independent too.

3. You can preview the possible career choices for your future.

Whether you received an acceptance letter from several schools or just can’t decide between a few professions, now is the time to try new things and see what resonates with you. Visit several different schools and get an idea for what it’s like to live in those areas for more than a weekend. Go where you can catch a glimpse of the real life that you’ve been dreaming of. For example, if you want to be an expert doctor who saves lives, try to go and visit a charitable hospital and volunteer your time there to get a closer look at the reality of it. Nothing is as glamorous as it seems from afar, but you should know what you’re getting into before you commit to studying it during college.

4. You have time to start a side business that can help you make money while in school.

If you succeed at creating an extra income source for yourself online, then you’ll be able to make money potentially from anywhere. You will have a financial safeguard you can fall back on if you hit unexpected financial challenges. Anyone can become a tutor, write or take extra work-from-home jobs online to make money while in school on websites like those featured on Tuition.io. Now is the time to write and self-publish your first book if you dream of author fame. If you’re a programmer, now you have time to network and meet others who think like you to develop those ideas you’ve been scheming about. You’ll never know how valuable your ideas could be until you put them out there and sell them to someone who really needs them. Whatever your skill is, you can use this year to build yourself a good website and experiment with your talents to get an idea of what you can do. It generally takes about a year for any online business — whether it’s through selling on Etsy, eBay, Shopify or on your own platform — to get some momentum, so have fun with it while you can.

5. You can get another chance to get into the college of your dreams.

If your grades were a problem, use this time to retake the SAT and ACT tests or retake extra classes that you didn’t do so well in. Then you can research more schools you didn’t apply to the first time around that might be a better fit for you. Who knows; you might like these new schools even more.

In short, a gap year may be exactly what you need to get your life on track and nail your college experience. When you explore your options, you start understanding why the American Gap Association reports that students taking a gap year graduate college with better grades than those going immediately into college.

For more information on taking a gap year, please see: What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages to a Gap Year?