Should High School Graduates to Take a Gap Year?

Many high school students now take a gap year off between graduation and when they start college. This gives you a year to focus on yourself and do the things that you want to do before enrolling in college. While some students like the idea of going right to college after a summer break, others want to spend more time exploring the world and learning about new things before picking a major. You should look at what you can do during this year and the advantages and disadvantages of these programs before making your decision.

Official vs. Unofficial Programs

One thing you should consider is whether an official or unofficial program is right for you. An official program is one offered by a college or a vocational training program. Several colleges allow those accepted into their programs take a year off to do volunteer work, and some of these schools will even give students credit for the work they do. Government programs offer students the right to take a year off and make some money for college. Unofficial programs are those that students create on their own. You can spend the year traveling across the country, sightseeing through Europe or working in your hometown before enrolling in college the following year.


Taking a year off lets you have experiences that you wouldn’t have in college. You can meet new people, make new friends and see the world on your own terms. Some programs pay you minimum wage or a higher amount for doing work, which you can put back for college. It also gives you the chance to see how well you’ll do away from home. If you worry about going away to college, you can get experience being on your own in a new place and away from your loved ones.


Spending a year away from home has some disadvantages too. Depending on the type of program you decide on, you may face expenses that you cannot cover, including transportation costs and room and board. Some students find that these programs are stressful too because they don’t have any money coming in while doing volunteer work. There is also a risk that you might lose your spot in the college you want to attend. You must contact the school, let the admissions department know that you want to take a year off and make sure that it will defer your acceptance for the year.

Making Your Decision

Making the decision to do a gap year is hard. U.S. News & World Report contributor Bradford Holmes suggests looking for a program that relates to your major and searching for one that your family can afford. While some programs allow you to use scholarships and financial aid to pay your costs, others require that you pay for the experience out of your own pocket. Finding a paid program usually takes more time, and you’ll face competition from hundreds of other students for just a few open spots.

High school students have the option of heading right to college after graduation or taking a year off. The best decision for you depends on what you can do in that year. You should look at the advantages and disadvantages, the types of programs available and other factors when deciding whether to take a gap year.