Power Players

Kevin O'Leary on taking a gap year to travel: 'Are you kidding?'

Kevin O'Leary: Don't take a gap year after college

Many young people dream of taking a break after high school, after college or between life stages with a so-called gap year. Malia Obama made headlines when she announced her plans for taking a gap year before attending Harvard in 2017, and there are entire programs dedicated to helping plan a gap year with activities ranging from volunteering to travel.

But business mogul and "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary says a gap year is a bad idea.

"What do I think about people taking a gap year, like chilling out after you've graduated? Doing a backpack trip of Europe or going to see Asia, it all sounds wonderful," O'Leary tells CNBC Make It. "Here's what I say: Forget all that. Get a job. Get into the economy."

"There'll be plenty of time for trips later after you've paid back your student debt," he adds. "Gap year, what? Are you kidding?"

For O'Leary, it's more important to "get in the game" so you can pay off any student debt.

"Get rid of that student debt right up front while you're young and frisky, that's the time to do it…" O'Leary previously told CNBC Make It. "You should pay that loan off in 36 months if you can do it."

It's worth noting that a 2014 report by the Gap Year Association found that more young people take a gap year between high school and college (when they are likely not yet strapped with student debt) than during or after graduating college.

Still, even for those who do not have student debt, O'Leary says you should get right to work after graduating. In fact O'Leary, who is a self-made multimillionaire, wouldn't bankroll a gap year for his own two kids when they graduated college.

"My kids asked for a gap year, and I said, 'Which gap? That weekend after you graduate, before you get the job? That's your gap,'" O'Leary says. "You get three days off. Now get back to work."

Kevin O'Leary with his son Trevor, daughter Savannah, and wife Linda.
Courtesy of Kevin O'Leary

For O'Leary, there's huge value in working hard.

"You have to go make it on your own, and I think that is a very important lesson," he says.

Don't miss: Kevin O'Leary: A college degree isn't for everyone — 'be a plumber, they get rich'

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to ABC's "Shark Tank."

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