Many seniors in high school are forced to face an inevitable question after graduation. They must decide what to do in the immediate future. Many are told going to college right after high school is the best option, but is it really? According to experts that have studied this subject it may not be.

Gap Year

The gap year definition states it is a time when students take a semester or a year off from school in order to experience and grow. You can use this year to travel, volunteer or work in different fields. Growth during this year happens personally, professionally and emotionally. You should use this time to ask yourself some difficult personal questions, explore your interests and become aware of what you truly like to do. This exploration allows you to choose a career path that is right for you.


There are many benefits of taking a gap year. The first benefit is that the gap year often makes you mature after giving you a small taste of the real world. This experience will help you to take your college education more seriously and focus. The second benefit for students who intend to travel during their gap year is that there are programs out there to help you achieve that. Going directly to college could mean you miss out on these programs and after college you will need to work to save your own money to travel. The third benefit is that a gap year can help students realize what they really want to do. Many students right out of high school are indecisive and just don't know what they want to do in the future. The final benefit of a gap year is to reduce the risk of burnout. Students taking difficult classes can lose interest going right from high school to college and this one year break can help them collect themselves and rejuvenate interest.

Going to College

For some, going to college could be the right thing to do. A gap year, while nice for undecided students, is not specifically necessary. The biggest reason to go to college straight out of high school is because there is evidence to suggest that some people who take a year off never go back to college. This is detrimental to your career and your overall lifetime earning potential. Studies show that those students who do not go back to college at all generally make approximately $800,000 less than students who go to college over the duration of a lifetime. Even those who take a year off and do return to college make less during their lifetime than students who attend immediately after. College is also a time to make mature friendships with people who will more than likely be your friends the rest of your life. Missing out on this opportunity and the activities of college can affect your relationships with other people the rest of your life. It could also mean missing out on possible networking opportunities with friends regarding your future career. Lastly, college offers many students opportunities to intern with different companies within their related fields of study. This allows them to get their foot in the door and can open up many other opportunities as well.

The Takeaway

At the end of your senior year, the choice is up to you. If you are a student that knows what they want to do with their life already and can make a clear choice about college majors, then going to college right after high school may be right for you. However, if you are still undecided, want to experience the world or are just burnt out in general and feel like a break could do you some good, then make the choice to take a gap year. However, just make sure you go back to ensure you make the most of your future.

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