Deciding when to start college is a personal decision that requires careful consideration. There are benefits and challenges to either course of action – starting right after high school or taking a year or two off.
While most high school graduates go on to college, others come from families where higher education seems like an unreachable dream.
Students who opt to delay college for a year or more base that decision on various factors, such as their environment, financial burden, time for relaxation, or traveling.
Taking time off offers time to reflect, find themselves, or work so that they can pay for college. Some are even pressured to go to college by teachers, parents, and friends because their loved ones believe that the more time spent away from school, the harder it is to go back.
“Choosing to pursue higher education is an [option], a matter of priorities, and it all depends on what you consider success,” senior Pierry Etienne said. “Being educated is success and being in debt will be worth it in the long run. The essence of anything and everything that works in this world is education. Education is priceless.”
For sophomore Sasha Aguilar, attending college was a necessary step, whether or not she wanted to do so.
“I did take a break from school,” Aguilar said. “I transferred around a lot, but I really wanted to stay home and take a break to hang out. Not everyone is a school person and St. John’s University is so overpriced. I’m thinking of leaving school after this semester.”
For others, like Irving Gutierrez who graduated from St. John’s in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in accounting, college was something to look forward to.
“It’s all up to the individual and in my case going to college immediately was my choice because I wanted to [have] a career,” Gutierrez said.
Two-thirds of graduates enroll in college, but only half of these receive bachelor’s degrees by their late twenties. More than a third of these students drop out with no degree, although some may return to college later in life.
The so-called gap year is a popular plan in the United Kingdom. According to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, the organization that processes applications for undergraduates in the UK, approximately 8 percent of students defer their higher education application for one year.
It would be beneficial to American students to do the same, according to some college administrators.
“Our system is so geared to going to college right out of high school that it takes an adventurer to jump the tracks and do something different,” said Jim McCoy, associate vice president for enrollment at Xavier University, in an Oct. 25 article in Cincinnati’s The Enquirer.
McCoy added that the gap-year experience would also benefit the university as students would be better prepared for college life.