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Not Ready For College Yet? It’s your senior year. Most of your friends are applying to college. But the idea doesn’t appeal to you at all. The fact is, you’re totally burned out. You need a break.

Although your parents may balk at this idea, it’s not really a bad one. If you’ve struggled with any aspect of high school – academic, personal or social – you may be suffering from “education fatigue”, a type of burnout that affects students.

What are your options? Well, one is to stick it out and go to college. Another, which an increasing number of experts are supporting, is taking a year off from school to pursue some other worthwhile objective.

“While it is not likely that I would plant the idea of not continuing one’s education right after high school, there are students whose case I will support,” says Joan Jacobson, a counselor at Shawnee Mission South Public High School in Kansas. “I would much rather they take a break, either work or travel, and start once they have had an opportunity to see their education in a new light — not more of the same, but a fresh new opportunity for growth.”


The benefits of a year off

Your parents may be worried that you will never go to college, if you take a year off, but usually the opposite occurs. If your year off is structured to give you some real-life experience, experts have discovered it usually helps to focus your interests and motivate you. Students who have been out in the work force, for example, have a clearer idea of what they want to do with their life and are better able to see the connection between their studies and the job they want. As a result, they usually do better in college.

On the other hand, students who are burned out, run the risk of doing poorly in college and either dropping or flunking out. Once that happens, the drop in your self-confidence level can be debilitating. It’s really hard to get up and running again.


Tackling your parents

Let’s face it, although it may look the opposite at time, your parents are on your side. They want you to have a good, comfortable life and a satisfying career. That’s why they’re pushing you towards college now. To them, not going to college seems like drifting. To get them on your side, try the following strategies:

  • Create a plan for what you will do during your year off. Your plan should include what your goals are (what you want to learn or accomplish) and how you plan to achieve this.
  • Check out the web sites of companies that match students taking time off with jobs. A good one to look at is Also check out their associated site,, which gives strategies for planning the year off.
  • While you’re still in your senior year, apply to college and go through the admissions process. Then, once you’re accepted, try to negotiate for delayed admissions. This will guarantee you a place in the school you want, plus it will reassure your parents that you really are serious about finish your education, once you’ve had a break.

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