The key to college success may be to not go, at least, for a year. A growing number of grads are taking a gap year off between high school and college. And experts say it’s a really smart move. 

For one thing, students are so focused on getting into college, that they don’t have time to consider what they’ll do once they get there. And hopping off the academic treadmill gives them time to learn about the real world, and about themselves, and what they want from life, so they’re less likely to jump from major to major trying to find the right fit. 

Also, whether they end up working in a yogurt shop, or volunteering at a local animal shelter, getting real-world experience teaches kids to be more independent and self-sufficient, and helps them mature, and become more confident. And studies show that college students who take a gap year actually perform better than those who go to college straight out of high school. 

Now, even super-competitive colleges, like Harvard and Princeton, have adopted formal policies to allow students to defer their admission, because they know 99-percent of the students will enroll the next year. Some schools even offer scholarships for gap year students to study or do volunteer work abroad. One Harvard University administrator has been on the job for 30 years, and he says he’s never met a gap year student who regretted taking the time off.