For many students, college is a natural next step after high school. Although the choice to pursue a college education is an intelligent choice, it is a choice, nonetheless. There are several paths to consider if you're having second thoughts about college. This post is not meant to dissuade you from choosing to go to college. On the contrary, it is an exercise in thinking about why the decision to go to college is the right decision. Hopefully, it will increase your aspirations in working towards a college degree and, in turn, provide a meaningful appreciation towards higher education. You will work hard, be challenged, and grow as a person during your college years. But, there are loads of other ways to accomplish the same.
For some, college may be in your future, just not in your NEAR future. If choosing to postpone college plans, then several alternatives are available to fit your specific needs.
The Gap Year
There may be several reasons to defer college for one year, known as the gap year:
· Study Abroad
· Earn Money
· Explore Careers
Sometimes you just need a little more time to figure “things” out. Deciding to take a gap year certainly does not give you the right to take a one-year’s vacation. If you are serious about college, then make sure your gap year is fruitful. You will still need to explain to a college admission officer why you chose to take a gap year and what meaningful activities you did during that time. Usually, the students taking a gap year are more mature and eager to begin college. Depending on your circumstances, a gap year may be beneficial.
Even if you accepted a college's invitation to join them in the Fall, you can still take a gap year. They will hold your spot for one year, no more! This is having the best of both worlds if you feel you need to work out some things before heading off to college. If you decide to take this route, be sure to inform your college about your plans!
The 13th Year
The 13th year or post-grad year is enrolling for a fifth year of high school. You may be thinking why anyone would even want to consider such a move, but there are legitimate reasons for it. Students who choose to take a 13th year are typically those students who may be young for their class, thereby making them less mature than their peers. A student may need that extra year if academics severely suffered in their first year of high school, but they improved dramatically in later years. The post-grad year may earn them favor with their final grade point average, which appeals to college admissions. There may have been a severe family circumstance that prevented the student from concentrating on academics during a high school year and they want to make up for the distraction. If a student is an excellent athlete and able to play for one more season, it could earn him qualification for a particular NCAA division or scholarship. If an athlete cannot meet the minimum academic requirements set by the NCAA division, then a post-grad year could be worthwhile, as well.
If you are considering a 13th year, then you must truly proceed with caution as there are no guarantees. You won’t suddenly become a great, gifted student during your fifth year of high school. No miraculous efforts will suddenly appear during your 13th year, scholarships are not guaranteed, and your chances of getting into Dream School XYZ will not increase because you took a post-grad year.
Another consideration is the cost of the 13th year. The availability of a post-grad year may only be available at a private institution. The private school may be similar in cost to that of a college. Additionally, you won’t earn college credit in your post-grad year.
Celebrate the various options you do have. Explore each that goes beyond a direct ticket to college. The decision is your own for either a gap year or a 13th year. If either alternative is taken, understand that you will be one year behind your peers who have chosen to go directly to college after high school. The decision is very personal and needs to be right for you and your situation. Deciding to not go to college is also a choice. There are so many opportunities out there for you to consider; just thought you'd want to know your options.