Ultimately, the decision comes down to your availability and circumstances. I began working when I was 15 and worked throughout high school and after, but it was because I had the time and capabilities of being able to get to my job that allowed that to happen. If you have the ability to work, I would suggest it, as any type of job will teach your skills that you can take with you to any job. It will also allow you to grow at a professional and personal level so you can become wiser, more effective at tasks you need to accomplish, and gives you experience that you can put on your resume.
Attending college directly after high school isn't for everyone. Some students are tired of school or never really enjoyed it in the first place. Others may want a break before they return to full-time education. And for some high school graduates, working instead of attending college is a monetary decision. Here are a few reasons why waiting on college can be a good idea.
EARN MONEY INSTEAD OF SPENDING IT
Unless you've been offered a full scholarship, going to college will cost you or your family money. And even if your schooling is paid for, you'll still need money for food, lodging, books, trips home, entertainment and more. Taking a year or two off to work and save money, especially if you're able to remain living for free with your parents, can be a very wise idea.
LEARN TO APPRECIATE SCHOOL
Most kids who finish up their 12 mandatory years of school are pretty sick of it by the time they graduate. While college is quite a different experience than high school, it still involves classrooms, books and even more studying. Taking a year or more to work can really help you value your college education. A year away from school can make the heart grow fonder of thinking and learning, especially if your job is tedious menial labor. The monotony of certain jobs tops the monotony of a classroom any day.
GAIN LIFE EXPERIENCE
College is a fairly sheltered environment. Often, you end up hanging around with the same types of people you knew in high school. Even if personalities vary, you will most likely find yourself in a group of people who are the same age as you, doing the same things you do every day. Work, on the other hand, can expose you to a wider range of people. The ages, socioeconomic backgrounds and hopes and dreams of your coworkers will be quite different than your own, and this is a good thing. It won't hurt to bring a bit more life knowledge to college, when you do decide to attend.
Earning your own money is a great way to learn how to manage it. And managing your own money is one of the first paths to independence. If you live on your own while you work, you'll gain even more life skills, including paying rent, paying utilities, buying your own groceries, gas and more.
PUT MORE THOUGHT INTO YOUR FUTURE CAREER
So many kids arrive at college and immediately have to decide on a major field of study. Most schools don't require you to choose a major until the end of your second year, but having a major from the start will help you to graduate on time and get the classes that you need. However, not many of us know what we want to study when we first arrive at college. Taking time off to work will also give you time to think. And if your job is washing dishes or busing tables, your brain will have a lot of free time to wander and consider career choices. You'll also have time to do a bit of research on different professions or maybe even secure a paid internship at a company to find out what type of work you'd like to do.
DECIDE IF SCHOOL IS THE RIGHT PATH FOR YOU
It's possible you'll like working so much more than being in school that you decide to forgo college altogether. I know the common mantra is you can't get a good job without a college degree, but that is changing a bit. Some companies offer apprenticeships, and some professions favor work experience much more than a degree. Besides, you can always change your mind later on and attend a university. College isn't going anywhere.
Best of luck to you!
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Todd Shilling, PhD, NRP
This is a great question. An interesting way to answer this is - "do the benefits outweigh the cons if I we're to get a job?" "What do I have to lose?"
Earning money: Getting a job right after high school can provide you with a source of income that can help you save for college, pay for living expenses, or start building your financial independence. Gaining work experience: Working can help you develop valuable skills such as teamwork, communication, time management, and problem-solving, which can be useful in your future career. Exploring career options: Getting a job can give you the opportunity to explore different career fields and gain insight into your interests and goals.
Limited job opportunities: Without a college degree or specialized skills, job opportunities may be limited, and you may have to settle for low-paying jobs with limited growth potential. Lower lifetime earnings: Studies have shown that individuals with college degrees typically earn more over their lifetimes than those without degrees. Delayed career advancement: Without a college degree, it may be more difficult to advance in your career or move into higher-paying positions. Ultimately, the decision to get a job after high school depends on your individual goals and circumstances. If you're not sure what you want to do in the long term or if you're considering college in the future, it may be beneficial to take a gap year to explore your interests, gain new experiences, and save money. If you have a clear career path in mind or if you're not interested in pursuing a college degree, getting a job right after high school may be a good option for you.
Its important to keep in mind that, yes , "gap years" are helpful to some ,but if you are sitting around moping and not actively seeking different opportunities that are beneficial to your future (which can be a broad array of endeavors),you are wasting your time. Simply finding a temporary job in the fast food industry as a simple means of income is a great way to build a foundation whilst you try to apply to colleges/universities. If school isn't for you, looking into trade schools where it is a more hands on environment is a good way to open up opportunities for the work force. Researching different jobs where a degree isn't required is an option you can also do whilst working or taking time away from school.
Work and college and fun are not mutually exclusive. You can get a full time job right out of high school and have plenty of fun while taking one or two college courses a semester. Or you can work part time and have a few more hours a week for school or fun or both.
If you are asking this question because after being in school for 18 years the thought of spending another four doing more of the same sounds awful, consider the skilled trades (carpenter, electrician, plumber, mason, etc.) There's a shortage of skilled workers out there and there are plenty of opportunities right now to work and make money while learning a highly in demand skill and making as much or more as a college graduate. You can always go to college later and earn your degree in Construction Management, or Civil Engineering, or Theater Technology, or Business.
Ultimately, my advice is don't limit yourself. What you do at 18 does not dictate what you will do for the rest of your life. As you learn more about the world and more about yourself and grow as a person your goals and interests will change and should always remain open to new opportunities for growth and advancement as they present themselves. 40 years ago, there were no such things as Influencers or Twitch Streamers or EV repair techs or Internet Cafe owners. Keep growing, keep learning, and keep an open mind and you'll be fine.