If you are just coming out of high school, you might be burnt out on education and looking forward to an entire summer free of academics. But wait. If you’re heading straight into college, you have a lot to do. If you are going to live in the dorms or get your own apartment, you have to consider all the necessities. You might need money for rent or food or whether or a microwave or a mini fridge for your room. You will have to shop for bedding and storage bins and hangers and all of those things you never had to think about before.
Even if you are planning to stay in your parents’ home and attend school, you still have to think about books, financial aid, what classes you plan to take, and then stress about whether or not you made the right decision regarding your college, major, and individual classes. Before you know it, you are sitting in your first college class wondering what the heck happened to your summer.
Maybe you are the type who enjoys this kind of whirlwind and can’t wait to get to college. More power to you. By all means, head straight from high school to college. You’ll do fine.
But some of us need a break from the chaos, and a year of working before college can really do us some good. Here are a few reasons that a year off from education to work between high school and college can be beneficial:
You Get a Break from Academics To Clear Your Mind
Some people need a longer break than two or three months between high school and college to make a smooth transition. It’s not easy coming out of that stressful senior year of high school right into the unfamiliar territory of a college education. A year away from learning can help you recharge your batteries and be even more prepared to jump back into learning when the time is right. You might also be at lower risk of burnout.
Some people say that a year off after high school puts graduates at greater risk of never attending college, but others argue that the burnout in the freshman year leads to a higher dropout rate. In fact, some are even more excited about college and ready to jump back into their studies after having that long break.
You Learn Independence
A year off from school after high school can actually better prepare you for college. Working for a year before college can teach you how to be independent and handle difficult situations on your own. With the freedom to make your own decisions, you can hone some of your real-life skills by learning about budgeting, paying bills, maintaining employment, handling difficult social situations, and increasing your assertiveness.
Learning these skills will give you a leg up in the college world and help you keep your focus on your education rather than scrambling to learn them before you graduate and are thrust into the world.
You Can Gain Clarity For Your Life
As cliché as it might sound, working for a year between high school and college can help you “find yourself.” You can spend time outside of the static of the academic world of people giving you constant instruction, and you can learn more about what things interest you and what things you prefer not to do. You can learn about your strengths and weaknesses and areas in your life you might need to improve. You can explore the world and learn more about your personal beliefs and opinions.
You Can Decide Whether Or Not College Is Actually For You
Yes, it’s true. Some people who take the year off between high school and college never actually return to their education. And you know what? That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. More and more people are deciding in today’s world that college is not for them and remaining in the workforce. The problem is that many of them find that out after they have racked up debt in the amount of at least one year’s worth of college tuition.
Working before entering college might just give you the clarity you need to decide whether or not college is actually for you. After all, you have likely spent the majority of your high school career being convinced that you MUST go to college in order to be professionally successful. This extra year will give you time to make that decision for yourself.
You Can Save Money
This is an obvious one. Instead of jumping straight into college after high school, you can take that year and gain valuable work experience and save money that will help you while you’re in college. If you’re lucky, you might even land a job near the field that interests you which can help you decide whether you are choosing the right major. You might decide that career is not for you before you even begin your studies, or you might get that jump on your resume with work experience under your belt before you have had your first class, all while saving money.
You Can Volunteer
Potential employers love to see volunteer work on a professional resume. A year off from education can afford you the perfect opportunity to volunteer and not only improve your chances for a lucrative future career, but you can also give back to your community. This will also go a long way in helping you gain perspective, especially if you volunteer in a field in which you might be interested in studying.
You Can Establish Healthy Habits
Let’s face it. It’s hard to stay physically and emotionally healthy in college, and it’s even more challenging to maintain health study habits. Taking a year off to work between high school and college can give you the time you need to develop healthy habits before you are thrown into the high demand and high pace of the college setting.
You can also take time to focus on your physical health and find an exercise and healthy eating regimen that works for you. If you establish these things as habits prior to entering the high-paced demands of a college setting, you will experience a much smoother transition.
You Can Improve Your Confidence
If you take a year off to gain real-world experience, you will find that you will improve your overall self-confidence and be able to assert yourself effectively among your peers and superiors.
This will benefit you by giving you the confidence you need to join class discussions, ask questions, or handle potential confrontation.
You Can Improve Social Skills
Working before college can help you gain the social skills necessary to navigate the bumpy social quagmire that is the college experience. Along with increasing your assertiveness, you can use this time to strengthen your existing relationships, learn how to choose your friends wisely, and establish new, healthy relationships. You can learn how to navigate conflict, politely deal with disgruntled customers or clients, and balance personal relationships with professional obligations.
Taking a year off of school to work can be extremely beneficial to your future success, but you have to do something more than rent Redbox movies and eat out of your parents’ fridge all year to reap the full benefits.
If you take a year off to focus on self-improvement and self-reflection, you will find that it can actually put you ahead of the game.