A private consultant who makes a living helping high school seniors get into college has some unexpected advice for them: Don't do it. Take at least a year off instead, writes Gwyeth T. Smith. Yes, the idea of the "gap year" has been around a while, but the lousy economy combined with the increasing rat-race aspect of the admissions process makes it sound advice for most students these days.
Too often, students spend their high school years "preening for colleges" instead of genuinely reflecting on "who they want to become," writes Smith in the Washington Post. That's not a new problem, but today's weak job market and skyrocketing tuition costs make it an expensive one to fix. A year off, wisely spent, can only help—not only the student but the entire out-of-whack system.