I hear this question from a lot of young people I talk to and the answers are as individual as the graduates and their parents.  There is a lot to be said for continuing your college education right after high school. For one thing, you are already in the habit of going to school and studying. Believe me, that is a habit it can be pretty easy to get out of!  For many people, the summer after high school is an exciting time to cut loose and play and that can make going back to school (junior college or college) either harder or easier to take, depending on your personality. Many young people find that college is a lot less restrictive than high school, even if you still have to study a lot. Going to class 2-3 times a week can feel freeing compared to going to high school classes all day every day of the week.

On the other hand, a lot of young people find themselves in your position—burned out on school and unclear about what they want to study or become professionally.  Sometimes delaying school can be a good move.  There is no point in wasting your parents’ money.  If you are not going to attend college right off the bat, I strongly recommend getting a steady part- or full-time job while you are deciding what to do.  You can have your summer of fun and then start to earn some money and get work experience.  If possible, move into a place of your own with a friend. Your parents will respect your decision more if you demonstrate your independence and personal responsibility.  Maybe you can negotiate with them to pay for your education when you attend college if they do not have to support you financially in the meantime.

There are also alternatives that are not so black and white.  You can go to junior college or a local university and work part-time so that you knock the general studies courses out of the way without having to commit to a major before you know what you want to do.  This keeps your hand in with studying and going to school while still allowing you to earn some money of your own (though what you will earn is usually not enough to support living in your own place). Some people want to travel, have adventures or move to a new area and establish work and some independence. These can also be good choices if you are ready for them.

I do recommend continuing college within 1-3 years after you finish high school even if you do take time off.  It is easy to get stuck in a dead end job and then lose the motivation or discipline to get yourself out of the rut.  Especially if you want your parents to support you in your education, don’t wait too long to take them up on the offer!

If you discuss your plans with your parents, it is much more likely that they will get behind you and support you in whatever you want to do (within reason, of course). They might even be willing to provide you with some financial support along the way—or at least keep you on their health insurance. Even with the tough job market college graduates face these days, the economy is improving and more opportunities are likely to become available in the near future. One thing is for certain, the vast majority of people with college educations make more money than people that do not have college degrees. While that may not be your top priority now, I can pretty much guarantee you that it will matter to you in the future.  Congratulations on your upcoming graduation and I wish you the best, whatever you decide.