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Is it alright to take two years off after high school?

  1. Mar 5, 2014 #1
    Hello, everybody. :smile:
    I am a high-school student about to finish school (in fact, I only have to pass examinations now). I am 17 years old.
    I have not been able to really grasp all concepts and have a good grip on Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry and have thus planned to take one year off for sure before I apply for admission in different universities. But, should the need arise - and it is very likely - that I take another year off, would it be a good choice that I may take without regret?
    I'd be 19 then, would that be too late to apply; or my knowledge too little for my age then?
    Can I get along fine without taking that extra year off? :confused:
    Did you take any time off?

    Last edited: Mar 5, 2014
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 5, 2014 #2
    What is your plan for taking advantage of that year or two? How will it benefit you? Will you be working at all to build some funds for university?
  4. Mar 5, 2014 #3


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    That's the real key. If you have a plan then maybe taking time off makes sense. If there is no other opportunity you are pursing it might just be wasted time.
  5. Mar 5, 2014 #4
    No, no. I just want to study and get a better grip on concepts.
  6. Mar 5, 2014 #5


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    You are far, far, far better off doing that in college than on your own. If you're in the USA a community college would be an excellent choice if you're not sure what you want to do yet. Just sign up for Math, Chemistry, and some general ed classes (physics isn't typically offered until Spring).

    When I started undergrad I had know idea what I was doing. That's what the first year is *for*... busting your butt and learning the basics and some study habits.

    If you have a good attitude and do the work you'll be fine.
  7. Mar 5, 2014 #6
    What kind of concepts? You can just take Physics I or Chemistry I in college so you can learn the concepts all over again. It's a bit more difficult for math, but you can always consider a CC.

    But to answer your question, no: the colleges aren't gonna care at all whether you take off two years. So it's not too late to apply.

    I do think it's not a very smart idea though.
  8. Mar 6, 2014 #7
    Go study abroad if you've got money. When I was an exchange student in Sweden for a year, most of the kids were taking a year off before uni - it seems that's normal in other parts of the world, at least from what I saw.
  9. Mar 6, 2014 #8
    If I were you I'd sign up for some community college classes like what's been suggested. It's cheap compared to uni, you prob won't have to go very far and you'd be better off than trying to figure it out on your own if you are already struggling.
  10. Mar 7, 2014 #9


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    If you are taking the time off for financial reasons, that is perfectly understandable. Otherwise, you run a high risk of becoming distracted and loosing your scholastic 'edge'. Even if you do take time off, you would be well advised to take a class or two to stay sharp.
  11. Mar 7, 2014 #10
    Taking time off to gain perspective of what you want to do is not a sin. However, I will caution you that once you get away from daily class work, it is not easy to pick up where you left off. Some can do it; others, not so much. That said, if you can afford to break away from school for a bit, and you're willing to put up with a potential setback in your studies, sometimes the extra time is helpful to figure out what you have learned.

    Some people, like me, are not quick thinkers. However I am a thorough and very thoughtful. To get through the compressed timelines I faced in school I did a lot of rote functions and memorization. For years after I left college, I would get these Aha! moments when concepts clicked together. That's when I would recognize a connection I had been struggling to understand before. And then studies and concepts that didn't make much sense to me before suddenly became a lot easier to understand and use.

    The extra time you're asking about is sometimes helpful to integrate those things you had to do to pass the class. But you have to be in the right frame of mind to make these connections, or you will forget those classes and that time will be wasted.
  12. Mar 7, 2014 #11
    I "took a few years off" in the U.S. Navy, yes, they sent me to school, and I do not regret seeing other parts of the planet etc... but now I am building fences for scant wages. I frequently wonder what my existence would consist of had I merely pursued my academics head-on, rather than put them on hold for a 'break.'

    Most of my regrets in life are things I DID NOT do- moreso than things I did wrong or even foolishly.
  13. Mar 12, 2014 #12
    Just to respond as well-- I don't learn quickly either but the way that the educational system is set-up you have to learn a ton of information in a very short amount of time. In addition, the information that you are taught is not presented with much depth. This can present additional problems as the information still wouldn't make sense given all of the time in the world. People don't appreciate slow thinkers but there are some advantages. I am taking the time to teach myself everything that I need to know so that I can take the next step. I can make the connections between different concepts and subjects and won't feel pressured by the speed of the curriculum. Its not that you can't do the work. Its just that you have to approach the learning process a different way.

    I also agree that it is extremely difficult to pick up the pace but if it is what you have to do to be successful then so be it. You need to take the time to figure out how your brain works and how you learn before you even start college so that you don't waste an exorbitant amount of money and time. So if that is one year or two before you officially start college you won't regret it provided you use your time wisely. I wish someone else had told me to do something similar to what you are doing. There is too much pressure to follow this order of going to college immediately after high school and I think there is not enough individualized advising which is unfortunate. Parents can also be a major pain because of their desire for you to go to college. People in general do not understand anything different than the established norm. This fact is extremely saddening and unfortunate. What you can also do so that you are not away from an academic environment is to help out in the mail room or something and work on your math/science skills and ask the professors around if they had any time to help you. That way you can make sure that you are doing the work correctly.

    I forgot to mention that many people associate the term "slow learner" with being dumb but that could not be farther from the truth. I was always called the "tortuga" by one of my teachers. Teachers and professors want people who are easy to teach and people who make them look good. Do what you think is right for you.

    I hope this helps and best of luck to you (sincerely).
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2014
  14. Mar 12, 2014 #13


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    I agree with the above poster. It's a highly individualized decision, and many people who enter college are really not willing or ready for it. I agree counselors do not give enough attention to the individual, and can make generalized suggestions. I encountered it when I met my counselor in high school. I was choosing whether to go to community college or university, and the counselor just gave me some generic flyers about community college and I was off on my own. I chose to go to community college, and I am very happy that I did. I was not ready for university when I finished high school, and now I'm at a top public institute in the United States. I wouldn't have lasted one semester at my university had I entered as a freshman.

    Some other posters have mentioned that its a high risk decision not to go, but at the same time it can also be a high risk decision to go. You can lose a lot of money going to college and wasting time.

    In my opinion, community college is an excellent option for you. It's more laid back than a university and much cheaper, so less risk if involved. You can take as many or as few classes as you want. You don't have to take a year off either, because for community colleges you can enter anytime you want, they admit students year round. Maybe you just need 1 semester off? I can't say since I don't know you and am not qualified to counsel you.
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