Taking Time Off After High School

High-school and college counselors interviewed by National PTA agree that if a student is taking a year off, he or she should go through the application process in the senior year, be accepted to college, and then, if possible, defer enrollment. Fortunately, all public colleges and universities and a growing number of private schools are now allowing students to defer for a year. Many schools, however, require that the student put down a deposit.

Choosing how to spend the year
High-school counselor John Boshoven encourages his students to think about it as a year "on," not "off." "It's important that the student use the year as a special gift and a time to work on or accomplish something (he or she) is passionate about," says Boshoven, who works at Community High, an alternative, public high school in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Factoring in the finances
What a high-school graduate does during his or her time off before entering college will largely depend on finances. Students who need to make money might pursue an internship or a type of employment that will enable them to learn more about a particular career. If making money is not a high priority, teenagers might consider volunteer opportunities with private organizations, churches, or governmental agencies. Some high-school graduates combine these approaches by working for awhile, then traveling or volunteering for the rest of the year.

Another option, which requires taking at least two years off, is enlisting in the military. This can allow a young person to explore career interests, as well as eliminate a good chunk of future college costs through various tuition-assistance programs. For example, a two-year enlistment for active duty can earn a GI nearly $20,000 for her college fund.

Keeping college in mind
No matter what students decide, Marybeth Kravets, president of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling and a college counselor at Deerfield Public High School in Illinois, says that college admissions officers will be taking a close look at what teenagers did with the time off. "The question," says Kravets, "is, 'What are they doing with their time to make it constructive?'"

In partnership with National PTA. Adapted from "Choosing a High-Quality After-School Program" in National PTA's Our Children magazine.



Where Should Newborns Sleep?
We've rounded up all the alternatives and considerations to make a safe choice for your new addition.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

5 Tips to Help Make Your Child Self-Sufficient
Follow these tips to help your child become self-sufficient, and help him learn the skills he'll need to take care of himself.

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks