Postponing College: Pros and Cons

12 Nov

Some of you may be thinking that you’re TIRED of school and want to take some time off and work or travel before attending college. Here are some pros and cons:


  • You may be able to save some money for college if you work.
  • You might be more mature and refreshed before starting college studies.
  • You could travel and see more of the world, thus gaining an appreciation for people of other cultures and also for your family, community, and country.
  • You might learn more about yourself and get insights into what kind of college major and career you would like.


  • Some colleges will not hold your admission/registration, and you would have to go through the application process all over again.
  • You will probably be most academically ready for college the fall after high school graduation. It’s possible that you may lose some knowledge for math and English placement tests if you wait a year.
  • The income you earn in a gap year must be reported for purposes of financial aid, and you will still have to also report your parents’ income. A year off does not make you independent for purposes of financial aid.
  • Travel and living expenses can be expensive — and you might find that you can’t save as much money as you thought, especially if you need to buy a car and fuel it for job transportation.
  • Good intentions often dissipate. When I have had students tell me they want to take a year off, I have observed that most likely they never attend college later on. The exceptions are rare.
  • College scholarship organizations often do not want to hold a scholarship for a year. They like to see immediate results for their fundraising efforts.
  • College tuition and living expenses are only going up each year, so postponing college can make funding college more expensive.

From the above you can probably imagine that I would not advise a gap year between high school and college. Instead, if students tell me they want to travel abroad, I suggest that they find a college that encourages and supports those kinds of programs. I have numerous former students studying in Europe this year — even a young man who is studying engineering figured out how to arrange his studies so he could go to Scotland for a semester.

If you’re not sure what you want to study, colleges have great career counseling centers — and you could even begin now by taking online tests (one is  — avoid doing any that require you to pay, as there are many that are sponsored by government and educational organizations).

What I’ve sometimes noticed is that students who want to take a year off to work often are simply nervous about leaving home. Visit colleges with your family. Arrange campus tours. Plan an overnight in a dorm with someone you know. Learn to overcome your fears.

However, if you’re got a great plan to travel or do an internship related to a potential career, that could work out well. In any case, talk as a family and then make a proactive plan that includes your college education later.

Here’s a great web article from Fastweb that provides info about gap year programs that can benefit you down the road:


One Response to “Postponing College: Pros and Cons”

  1. Janet McHenry, Looking Up & Up2Me November 13, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    The Fastweb link isn’t showing up well in the blog post. Here it is again:

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