Alternative Resources

Deciding What To Do With Your Time Off

Think About It As a Year “On”

What you do with your time off will depend a lot on your goals and finances, but the important thing is not to waste the year. Think of it as “time on”, a special gift of time that will allow you to make something meaningful of your life.

Remember that, no matter what you choose to do, college admission officers will take a close look at your choice. According to Marybeth Kravets, President of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling and a college counselor at Deerfield Public High School in Illinois, the question they’ll be asking is, ‘What are you doing with your time to make it constructive?'”


Follow Your Passion

Do you have a passion or special interest? What about volunteer work in that field? Environmental groups, zoos, various social support groups and activist groups such as SADD, political campaigns, historic societies, and groups serving children, the elderly and the needy, all need volunteer workers. The experience you gain in these fields can lead to very rewarding full-time career.


Make It A Learning Experience

You’ve often heard it said, the most important kind of learning occurs outside the classroom. Volunteer work will provide one kind of learning experience. Another kind are jobs where you work for lessons type of jobs. If you’ve a passion for horses and the willingness to work hard, for example, many show stables will take you on and give you lessons in exchange for mucking out stalls, grooming horses and helping out with other work that needs to be done. The advantage, of course, is that you learn from the top people in the field without paying a penny for lessons. Check whether the field you’re interested in has this kind of job.

Other learning alternatives to college can be found at


Deferred Enrollment

If you’re planning on entering college after your year off, high-school and college counselors agree that you should go through the application process in your senior year, even though you may not enter school in September. Once you’ve received your acceptance, ask for deferred enrollment. Don’t worry about asking. Today every public college and university in the United States, as well as a large number of private schools, let students defer their entry into college for a year. You may have to put down a deposit, though, so include this in your financial planning for your year off.

The advantages of applying while still in high school are:

  • You have easy access to information on SAT testing dates, teachers to use for reference, etc. – in short, all the things you’ll need for your application.
  • Your mind is still in “school mode”, so you’ll be sharper when it comes to taking the SAT tests.
  • It shows you are serious about going to university.
  • You don’t have to explain a year off while you are applying, because it hasn’t happened yet. If you wait to apply, you will have to explain what you did during that year. You will appear less serious about your education.


Factoring in the finances

What you do during your time off may depend finances, especially if your parents aren’t footing the bill. If making money’s important, an internship or a type of employment that will enable you to learn more about a particular career is a good choice. On the other hand, if you’re not worried about earning a living, consider volunteer opportunities with private organizations, churches, or governmental agencies. Travel is also an option and can be combined with work, especially if you’re traveling within the United States. In addition, many developing countries, especially in Asia, are eager for teachers who are for native speakers of English and it doesn’t matter whether you have a degree in teaching. These countries will usually supply you with a place to live and a low salary that will enable you to live comfortably in their country and even travel around.


Be All That You Can Be

While not for everyone, it pays to consider enlisting in the military, especially if you are concerned about college costs. Enlistment requires taking at least two years off, but gives you practical training in an employable field when you’re discharged. Moreover, it enables you to pay for a good part of your future college costs through various tuition-assistance programs. The amount you can earn for your college fund is sizeable: two years of active duty can net nearly $20,000 in tuition assistance.