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 while it’s been cool, you might be starting to feel like you really need a break from the grind of lectures, homework and tests. Enter: the year off. You love the idea. A whole year to “find yourself” and hopefully have a heck of a lot of fun 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, there are definitely some concerns that may be holding you back.
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 HUGELY rewarding.
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
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, there are SO many options for different ways to take time off that will keep you on track academically.
Internship or trade school:
If you’re career focused, you could consider pursuing an internship, apprenticeship or trade school. These are great resume boosters and can certainly help prepare you to begin your career. Often, internships are unpaid and trade school will have semester fees, so these options might be inaccessible for those on a tighter budget.
Programmed Volunteer or Travel:
If you’re eager to explore but crave structure and a concrete plan, there are tons of awesome programs out there to choose from. Go Overseas is a great site to help you get started. In some cases, like NOLS courses, you can even earn elective college credit. While year-off programs are a super desirable option for many, they can be very expensive and lead to a later graduation/start of your career.
The Verto Solution:
A program like Verto addresses these concerns and combines the best elements from so many year-off options. Through Verto, you can travel the world while still earning general education credits towards your college (and for a tuition that beats the cost of a lot of colleges). 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 family and friends across the world.
Whatever your concerns about a year-off, there is a way to make it happen!
At Verto, we believe that taking a year off is not only beneficial, but completely do-able when you find a program that works for you. We’d love to chat if you want to learn more about how we can make a semester abroad possible for you.