The Pros and Cons of Taking a Year Off Before College

In December 2014, an article on Teen Huffington Post encouraged teens to take a year off to travel before heading to college. The article is convincing and worth reading. But if you want to read a shorter version along with some pros and cons to making such a decision, here’s another spin on the topic:


First, you should know that the choice is yours. You’re 18 years old (or close to it) and it’s time to be an adult. Part of being an adult is having responsibility, or response-ability, that is, adulthood is going to require the ability to respond to your life. Making safe and sound decisions is part of the maturity that being an adult requires.


But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun! For example, you might decide to volunteer abroad for a year. Or you might decide to work in the fisheries in Alaska or become a deckhand for charter sailing boats in the Caribbean. It’s a difficult decision to make, and it’s one that deserves contemplation and inward searching. Many adults later regret not taking the time to think about what they would’ve like to have done after high school. It’s common to go with what’s commonly expected without giving it any thought. For instance, many teens go right to college because that’s what everyone does. It’s common to either move away and attend a university or attend a nearby community college.


As a young adult you’re probably trying to figure out how it’s going to go when you reach high school graduation. You’re probably trying to decipher the details regarding many areas of your life, including where to go to college or whether to go at all, where you might live, and what job to pursue in order to become financially stable.


Of course, some recent graduates stay home for their first few years of college so that they can rely upon the financial and emotional support of their parents. And there are a large number of graduates who go away to college. The experience of leaving home can bring both highs and lows. It has some pros and cons, even if college is just a few hours away.


Because many teens tend to follow the crowd without giving their future much thought, many go on to college without knowing what they want to study, what career path to take, or what interests them. In fact, many end up going to college only to discover that later in adulthood that they want to change careers.


Part of the problem is not knowing yourself well enough. It takes time, a wide variety of experiences, and inner exploration to finally know what you’re looking for and what you want to experience in life. For this reason, traveling might be a good idea. Volunteering or studying abroad or even getting a job in a distant country can be some options to consider.


At the same time, if you’re feeling pressured to go to college, but you’re just not sure if you want to do it, you can actually try what it’s like to be a college student on a 3-week trial. You can give university life a test run for a period of time and see what’s it’s like to attend classes, take online classes, practice your time management skills, and check out student resources.


The University of Phoenix, an online college degree program, is offering college on a trial basis. Believe it or not, you can see what it’s like to take a couple of classes and see whether it’s for you.


Whether you end up leaving the nest of your childhood to attend a distant university or to travel, remember that there are some wonderful highs that finally come with leaving home. You don’t have to abide by the rules and limitations that your parents have placed on you for so many years. You have the opportunity to make your own choices, stay out as late as you want, eat what you want, and spend time with friends that your parents might not like. All of your choices are now up to you! Your independence and autonomy have finally arrived!


However, as mentioned earlier, with independence comes responsibility. With being able to make your own choices and with the freedom to live your life the way you want to live it comes burdens that all adults must bear. It’s time to make some tough decisions, but they’re wonderful!  No matter what you decide, most young adults find that the freedom of adulthood outweighs the burdens of adulthood.