Author Topic: Gap Year Between High School and College  (Read 3457 times)

LowER

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Gap Year Between High School and College
« on: February 25, 2014, 07:54:48 AM »
Hello Mustachians:

My 17 year old daughter is considering taking a year off prior to starting college.  She forwarded a few websites that look interesting: gap year.com and nacacnet.org.

I took 2 years off and really enjoyed it and came back a very motivated student.

I'm ashamed to say this, but I have never been off the North American continent so have no great advice about possibly going abroad and possibly teaching English or being a scuba or ski instructor, orů..

Many on this forum have traveled extensively and done some pretty amazing traveling.

I would greatly appreciate any advice and/or personal stories of great adventures that you would recommend to a 17 year daughter?

GuitarStv

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2014, 01:16:46 PM »
I finished high school with all my credits a half year early.  Took the half year off from school and worked a variety of terrible jobs.  It was good motivation to apply myself to university.  If your daughter is just planning on fucking around with parents money I'd say it's not really a great idea.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2014, 02:26:19 PM »
I went into the Military because i knew i wasnt ready for more school after 12 years of it and probably would of dropped out. If she skips a year she better work her butt off. Longer there off less likely they will go back to school in my opinion unless you make them want to!

homehandymum

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2014, 02:57:27 PM »
I think a Gap year is a great idea.  Much much better than signing up for a ton of debt with no real idea of why you're going there (my own story). 

For me, I was too young to have made such a big life decision and needed more maturity under my belt.  Other people seem to have always known what they were doing with their life, but not me!  College was my way of *deferring* the stress of growing up - heck, I even got a masters degree to postpone the awful realisation that I'd have to get a 'real' job one day. (I worked part time during study, but for some reason that never felt like real money-making).

I've enjoyed this book lately:  http://www.better-than-college.com/

Other thoughts I've had:  Charge the kids board once they've left school = motivation to get a job.  OR, let them live board free but contribute to food costs (or some major non-financial contribution to the running of the household).  Basically, they should be transitioning to adult-type responsibilities in the household - which means pulling their weight in some way, although not necessarily monetarily (after all, I'm not earning at the moment, but pull my weight in other ways).

Alternatively, here are some blogs by unschooling, un-college-ing teens/adults, one of whom now runs a business doing 'world-schooling' tours for people:

http://eligerzon.com/blog/

http://www.collegerebellion.com/blog/

Not that avoiding college altogether is necessarily the plan, but I think it's a great idea to step outside of formal academics for a while to put the college track into perspective.  Had I got a junior admin job somewhere or something like that I might have opted for a completely different field of study (like, one that would actually translate into a higher income, rather than a research science with limited employment options). 

Such is life.  I don't think my experience was entirely wasted, but if I had my time again I'd do it differently :)

katiecolorado

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2014, 05:02:54 PM »
Finally, something that I can answer.

I took a gap year after high school, which I spent in South Africa and Uganda.

I was incredibly burned out after high school and didn't know what I wanted to study. My family is from South Africa, so my folks were very supportive of me going and contributed financially toward it, which was an incredible blessing that I am very thankful for. I understand individuals paying for their own travels (and I did pay for some of mine), but my parents could afford it and I lived very inexpensively (280/month for all living expenses, staying in a commune type place).

The benefits: It was an incredible experience. I learned a ton about people and myself. Some of my roommates came from impoverished backgrounds, which was very eye opening. I worked in an international community while I was there, which not only taught me a lot, but is an excellent resume piece.

The negatives: I had some challenges being so young (I turned 18 a month before I left the states). Some of my greatest learning experiences were from some of the crap that I dealt with (shady ethical standards, misogynistic coworkers, etc). Since my family is from South Africa, there were some family friends that lived nearby so I was able to go to them for emotional support.

Would I recommend a gap year? A thousand times yes. It was a difficult year, but I came out better because of it. As soon as I got back to the states, I enrolled in community college and eventually graduated from a state school (even earned an outstanding undergraduate award). Within three months of finishing, I was gainfully employed in a field related to my degree.

My advice is to be careful with any travel to third-world nations. Do your homework with any volunteering groups and talk with people who have been there.
Also, gap years should be productive. Learning, gaining new experiences, growing as a person.

LowER

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2014, 09:52:21 PM »
katie: That sounds like a great adventure and kind of a mix of tastes of international travel and jobs that make you want an education. 

homehandymum: Thanks for the links and insight.  I graduated HS at 17 and was going on 14. 

serpentstooth: If I would have gone straight through I would have finished at a time when I would have made twice what I eventually started at but I was so immature that I don't think I would have made it.

soccerloveof4: I hear you, and I am bit scared about lowering her likelihood of ever going to college, which is something that I unequivocally want for her and have a 529 in her name that comes close to covering a 4 year degree already.

Guitarstv: During the tourist season my job was heavenly, in the off season, times were tough, and really motivated me to get back to college, especially some of those temp jobs I did - some were worse than that Dirty Jobs tv show.

With your permission, I'd like to cut and paste your responses and send them to her in an email to help broaden her list of possibilities.

Thanks to everyone, and I'd love to hear from others.

LowER

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2014, 09:56:29 PM »
I'm going to post this same OP over at bogleheads, so no need to respond over there if you have here.

Thanks again,
LER

homehandymum

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2014, 10:00:04 PM »
With your permission, I'd like to cut and paste your responses and send them to her in an email to help broaden her list of possibilities.

Sure :)

Joel

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2014, 10:28:34 PM »
I'm personally not a fan of this at all, because I know too many people who I went to high school with that took the year off after high school, and then never went to college.

College already takes 4-5 years, that I have a hard time delaying that any further.

As long as the person has a plan for that year, I think it's reasonable though. Not just taking a year off to be a bum.

horsepoor

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Re: Gap Year Between High School and College
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2014, 08:43:09 AM »
I started college at 17 and only made it through one quarter (got good grades, just very out of place).  I ended up going home and working at a coffee shop until the start of the following school year, at which point I enrolled in the college that I eventually graduated from.

I think that having the breather between HS and college was a good thing, and gave me some time to mature a bit and think about what I wanted to do.  I was still clueless when I went back to college, but not quite as clueless as the first time. 

Doing any kind of work is really helpful, and puts things in perspective. 

What do you/she want out of the college education?  If it's just a degree, in something, I think going straight through is fine.  However, it seems to me like having a little extra time to be out in the world might help with choosing a better major/career path.  If I'd sucked it up and gone straight through at my first college, I probably would have ended up with a liberal arts degree without much of a career path.  Instead, I took five years at my second college, worked while going to school, and changed majors a couple times before settling on something that has turned out to be a great combination of interesting work along with lots of job opportunities that materialized into a great career ladder.