Last Updated on May 6, 2020.
Wondering if a year off before college would be the right move for you? Don’t stress, Verto has your back with a breakdown of the pros and cons of a year off (and how to get the best of both worlds).
Why You Should Go Straight to College
High school is wrapping up and you might be starting to feel like you really need a break from the grind of lectures, homework and tests. You’re probably also worried about what your freshman year will look like in the context of this pandemic and have a feeling that online learning won’t be the right fit for you. You had been so excited about your first semester experience but now you’re feeling pretty “blah.”
Enter: the year off. You love the idea. A whole year to “find yourself” and hopefully have an awesome time in the process. But while it’s super easy to picture yourself spending the year backpacking across Asia or reading poetry all day in that super trendy coffee shop, you just don’t know what the world is going to look like come fall. Especially with so much uncertainty, there are some major concerns holding you back.
Don’t stress! Verto has your back with a breakdown of the pros and cons of a year off (and how to get the best of both worlds even in these crazy times).
Great opportunities for getting the most out of time-off may not be available this fall.
You might have been excited about the options of travel, volunteering, an internship, or trade school but now it feels like you can’t count on these opportunities to definitely work out. You just don’t know how the global situation will change in the next few months and what options will still be available.
It can be scary to go against the norm.
When your life path has almost always been laid out for you, doing something different can feel like a huge deal. For years your main focus has been on getting into college and for others around you, going to college is the obvious next step. Having different desires can feel isolating and you might be concerned that you don’t have the right support systems to help you figure out an alternative. You might also be worried about feeling left out when you see pictures of your friends at their college orientations or hear stories about their crazy new dormmates.
A year off might delay your graduation and the start of your career.
For students who have been riding on the college fast-track, pushing back graduation can seem less than appealing. You might feel pressure to stick to your “4-year plan” and don’t see how a year off would support your academic or career goals. These concerns can feel especially important if you are under financial pressure and feel the need to start earning a salary ASAP.
Year-off programs are expensive.
There’s a good chance you’re already traumatized from the student loans you’ve yet to take out. You might be worried about how you can even afford taking a year off and definitely can’t imagine paying for an extra program on top of school.
There are too many options.
And even if you found a way around all these challenges, you don’t even know what you would do for a year! There are so many options and you don’t know where to start.
Why You Totally Should Take a Semester or Year Off Before College
Let’s imagine a hypothetical, beautiful world where there were absolutely no financial or personal barriers to taking time off before school.
A year off can be super strategic and HUGELY rewarding.
In the context of the current pandemic, time-off might be the best option for an enriching and fulfilling year.
The reality is that colleges may be forced to run exclusively online this fall or have to drastically change their on-campus offerings to accommodate budget cuts and other challenges. This possibility can feel like a huge bummer since you might not be able to have the typical on-campus freshman experience you’ve been looking forward to.
Because of these potential outcomes, it can make sense to utilize this year in a meaningful way and wait to pursue the typical college experience until everything gets back to normal. You can take the year to achieve some amazing goals instead of having a freshman semester you aren’t excited about.
You will become confident and independent.
It takes guts to carve out your own path and live out YOUR dreams, rather than following the fixed path society has already set up for you. Just taking the first step to make this decision by yourself, for yourself, can cultivate some major inner-strength and courage. Whether you pursue an internship, volunteer program, or something totally new, you will certainly leave your comfort zone and be a better person for it.
Time off can open up new doors for your career and future.
Instead of sitting in a classroom all day, you could be gaining hands-on experience in your field, learning from experts, or solving problems in a totally new environment. Future employers will certainly take note of your experiences and adaptability; so much so, that “88 percent of gap year graduates report that their gap year had significantly added to their employability” according to a study cited by the Gap Year Association.
A year off will also give you more time to better understand your goals.
You’ll be able to explore your interests and discover new passions. You may even unexpectedly fall in love with a totally new subject! Regardless, you’ll start school with a stronger sense of what you care about and what you want to study. Harvard, among other top universities, even explicitly recommends a year off to students. Some programs (like Verto!) even make it possible to gain course credits towards your future university, so you’ll already have a head start!
Most excitingly though, infinite adventures await.
Taking a year (or semester!) off means dedicating a big chunk of time to whatever experience will be most meaningful for you. Which translates to infinite opportunities for adventures, learning, and connecting with others.
The Best of Both Worlds
The Verto Solution:
Okay, so there’s all these awesome benefits to taking a year off. But what about all the impediments we talked about in the beginning?!
Luckily, Verto programs address these concerns and combine the best elements from so many year-off options. Through Verto, you can travel the world while still earning general education credits towards graduation– and for a tuition that beats the cost of a lot of colleges! We are even offering an Opportunity Grant which can reduce the cost of our Latin America semester to as low as 5k!
On all of our semesters, you’ll gain in depth knowledge of a subject and have tons of hands-on experience to show. It is not a “gap year” because our students don’t experience any gap! You can still graduate on time, continue your education AND travel the world. All this while having meaningful engagement with diverse communities and meeting new friends across the globe.
We have an entire article dedicated to describing the ways in which a Verto semester offers solutions to some of the problems with a gap year. Learn more about why Verto is the best option for a year off here.
While there are so many unknowns at this challenging time, Verto’s commitment to the highest quality education remains clear. All Verto fall programs will continue as planned (see our Fall Scenario Plan) and we remain fully committed to ensuring that our students stay on track to enroll at a partner institution and graduate in four years (as outlined in our Enrollment Guarantee).
More than ever, Verto believes in the purpose of international education and we encourage incoming freshmen to embody that purpose by forging ahead and planning for a better future. We’d love to chat if you want to learn more about how we can make a Verto semester possible for you.