Choosing Not To Immediately Enter College

This post is from Jen Boller,’s Mentor Manager.

Is Straight to College Right For Your Family?

It seems like only yesterday that I watched my daughter lace up her Keds and don her Pokemon backpack for her first day of 3rd grade.  In the blink of an eye, her 18th birthday arrived during her senior year of high school, and we found ourselves discussing her plans for the future.  An aspiring artist, she has the talent to develop a career out of her passion for art, but was entering college in the coming fall the right choice for her?

Over the years, my daughter often struggled with setting realistic goals for herself; staying focused on tasks at hand, and developing successful strategies for organization and discipline.  While starting when a child is young and setting a positive example is important, in the end, it seemed that this really is something that many young adults need to experience and cultivate in their own time and in their own way.   Through our discussions, we all agreed that to reach her career goals she would need a college education, but, a number of questions remained.

  • What career do I want to pursue with my talents?
  • School is all I have known my whole life.  Should I take the time to experience life and the responsibilities of adult hood before more schooling?
  • Are there other endeavors I would like to pursue that I have not had a chance to before?  What can I do to impact the lives of others now?
Considering a “Gap Year”

In the end, the final decision to take a year off before entering college was made.  Instead of college applications, resumes were drafted, applications filled out, and before long… her first meaningful job.  The evolution that has taken place over the months as a result of her job and other community activities amazes us daily.  No longer does she:

  • Squawk about chores. She now knows that as part of the household, the expectation is that we all have responsibilities.
  • Come to us seeking answers to difficulties and problems, but rather utilizes her resourcefulness to determine solutions.

Her time among the working class has helped her begin to develop the skills and qualities she will need to be successful in college, and throughout her career in the years to come; decision-making, problem-solving, self-confidence, organization, responsibility, and communication to name just a few.   While taking a year off before college is not ideal for everyone, it is a decision that your family may need to make.  But for some, a gap year is the right choice to ensure your child is well-prepared for the challenges that both college and life have in store.

2 Responses to Choosing Not To Immediately Enter College

  1. Alli January 3, 2011 at 4:40 PM #

    Interesting post. Too many high school graduates jump right into college because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do. And people wonder why college completion rates are low…

    Most students who drop out of college do so after only one semester, or at some point during their first year. There are so many options available to students today though that don’t necessarily mean a four-year college. Community colleges, vocational programs, full-time jobs, and online education might be a better fit for a particular student.

  2. jake lee December 1, 2010 at 7:56 PM #


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