Thoughtful Transition: High Shool to College [Teen Article]

Gema is an 18-year old from Miami, FL. She loves reading and writing young adult fiction and claims to pass out in the presence of sterile wit.

Should Teens Take A Year Off Before College
A high school diploma usually symbolizes the level of commitment you had to your education. In twelve years (or more), you swam against the hurricane currents of teenage drama. Somehow you managed to survive with only a pile of wet clothes and an ear full of water even when the odds were against you.. However, just because you didn’t drown this time doesn’t mean the strong currents are behind you. A high school diploma enables a person to get a better job than a drop out, but a comfortable living usually implies a bachelor’s degree. So the question stands: when’s the right time to go to college? Should a student take a year long breather and unwind from the stress of the past twelve years?  Or should the student dive straight into the college ocean?

Certain people I know have decided to stroll on the sand for a year before jumping into the college ocean. They feel that they’ve fried what’s left of their brains in high school. Others want to take a year off to work and go into college with some money in their pockets. My opinion, however, is that students shouldn’t take a year off between high school and college. As a person that graduated earlier this month, I can vouch for the stress seniors go through during the college application process. Mountains of paperwork, truck loads of life-changing decisions and expensive phone calls to far universities. It’d be easier to just dump everything in a wastebasket and let things figure themselves out. And good luck to those who choose to do so.
But there’s a risk to this: momentum.

Homework, tests and projects keep students moving in high school. As stressful as it may be, this is an instinctive rhythm fused into students throughout the K-12 years. From the “write down the definition five times” in first grade all the way to the major research paper on Othello in twelfth grade, this rhythm has gained speed and intensified the way music does in a scary movie. If a student decides to let their education dangle aside for a year, it will be the equivalent of a false climax in a movie. You know the moment: the music swells as the protagonist opens the basement door where the killer is. But instead of meeting her demise, you find out that the killer was a figment of her imagination and that it was all a dream.

That’s a major letdown.

Students should roll past the rising action that is K-12 and aim for their own “real climax”; the one where all their late night studying and memorizing incomprehensible equation lead up to the thrill of studying for their career in an environment where everyone has that similar goal. Their falling action could be the beginning of a career or perhaps that year long break that they craved four years prior to their bachelor’s degree. They’ll have the freedom to choose once they don’t have to worry about losing momentum.

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One Response to “Thoughtful Transition: High Shool to College [Teen Article]”

  1. Angela
    August 31, 2009 at 9:02 am #

    This is a really interesting article. Thank you. I disagree slightly with some of the points however. While the idea of losing momentum may be true for some, I think taking a year off between high school and college can be a really great learning experience for others. I think it can be a good opportunity to explore other kinds of learning whether through work or simply experiencing life in a non-school environment. A year off could also help a person to develop other parts of the brain that might have been more neglected during the intensity of high school.
    While I agree that taking a year off could make some students lose momentum, I really think it depends on the individual whether or not this is the case. In deciding whether or not to take the year off, I think it is important to asses each individual’s strengths and goals before deciding whether to do so or not.
    Thanks again for your interesting post! Good luck in school!

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