Ask Lisa College or Gap Year?

My son was pretty determined to take a gap year between high school and college, but now is having second thoughts. Of course I want him to go to college, but I also want him to live with his decisions. Do I swoop in and help him find a school to attend next year at this late date, or do I advise him to stick with his plan of working and traveling? He could be earning tuition money in this gap year, or he could lose the momentum he needs to start college.
— Name withheld

You know your son better than I do. There are a couple of things to consider. Hopefully, security around the world these days is not factoring into this decision. We have to live our lives even with the terrorism that is striking all around us.

I am with you on having him live with his decision. It’s awfully late to apply to college. Community college is likely, but he should find a school that offers him the experience he is looking for. That means researching the schools and scholarships so that he is fully prepared and can get the best experience he can. I think a gap year is a wonderful chance for young people to see the world and have experiences that they may not get another chance to explore.

My daughter is in college on the West Coast. She was so determined to be in California for school and every so often she tells us she may have made a mistake. She wants to be closer to home. We discussed that when she was making the decision. We applaud her for dreaming and putting herself out there. But we are also encouraging her to stick with the decision she made. Sticking with a plan has its merits.

If he goes on the gap year and it’s not what he thought it would be, he will have to adapt his plan. It doesn’t mean he was wrong or a failure. It just means that sometimes when you choose the road that was not paved for you, you have to take a detour. On that detour a whole world opens up.

Maybe he decides to do less traveling and more working or vice versa. This could be an awesome year for him to learn just like for my Grace. Even though she had her moments she says she learned a lot about being independent and how to fend for herself.

Let him dive into it and see where the road takes him. He can always get on the college path—if he plans well.

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