Students exiting the American school system have been told they are ready and prepared for whatever comes next, as long as college is the only thing that comes next. Many students do not give a second thought to the other options or alternatives that abound. While college is a good option for many, it is not the only option. Other paths, such as technical schools, or jobs involving physical abilities, provide just as lucrative rewards as college, at a much lower initial barrier of entry cost. Students should aim to use a gap year to experience many different things, and ensure they truly want to attend college.
Students dedicated to a University education may need to take a year off before entering college because they probably spend their entire high school careers working extremely hard for acceptance. They will probably need time to actually process their wants and needs for their future academic careers, and a year between changing educational institutions will benefit them greatly.
Students should not have to wait a year to go to college if they do not want. If they are required to wait a year it is not good for them at all. It may make learning harder for them and it is possible that they might forget things that are important.
Once you have stopped school or taken a gap year - it is very difficult to resume studies. It's very easy to fall into the trap of getting a job for "a while" or traveling but then getting back to a school routine is very difficult. Taking the summer off is a great idea but not a whole year.