I say it's a better idea to do it after HS and before college, but with cautions. The biggest downfall is you're going to feel too comfortable and content; there will be tons of kids your age right out of high school, it will be extra exciting because it's your first time away from home, and way too easy to get distracted and lose your focus and never go to college. But IMO, better to be an "uneducated" ski bum than to be an "educated scholar" broke as shit under a mountain of student debt with no job prospects because you rushed into school and picked the first program that had classes you enjoyed without doing your research on your long term goal. Go into it with a plan, and turn it into a win-win. Move to a state that has mountains where it is also easy to become an in-state resident for tuition, choose the school/state first and the skiing second. Tuition is a bitch and sinks many who are even able to use their degree after college, don't make the mistake of paying too much for a school. But equally the biggest advantage is the networking. Too many nerdy types think of networking as kissing the ass of your professor, finding a mentor, whatever. It works sometimes, but college professors are also not always to be trusted. Their bottom line is getting students to go into their program. If kids stop taking philosophy, that prof is out of a job so it's in their interests to persuade students that there is a future in that program even if they are lying through their teeth.
Ski lifts don't lie. Ok maybe they do, lots of lies about air time, gnar etc are made up on the lift line. But skiing is not a broke-man sport. Chances are, that 30-40 year old dude/tourist you get on the lift with is doing pretty alright in life, and they have much less reason to lie to you. Ask them what they do for a living, it's not at all awkward like ass kissing a mentor/professor would be, and talk around enough and somebody will literally tell you every step you need to take, what degree to go into, whatnot to make some healthy amount of money. They may even say "if you get a four year degree in ..geology, and I will hire you for 90k a year doing such and such..". Sure you may lose contact with them but that's a solid fucking lead right there.
Finally, a gap year after school IMO is no bueno. One of the best parts about a good school/program is that alums and employers contact the school departments of interest and specifically offer the jobs first to those people. It's a great resource. If you take a gap year after college, you lose pretty much all of those hookups on jobs, not to mention you have a nasty gap in your employment history. If I was an employer and I was interviewing somebody who just spent the last year smoking, skiing and partying I can see why you would have your hangups in believing that this person is really ready for a demanding, hard job.
Just a quick search led me to which states are easiest. Utah is easy and has great skiing, will also help keep you on the straight and narrow and you just may want to GTFO after one season of living there, sounds pretty good to me. I'm sure U of U life doesn't suck
**This post was edited on Jul 19th 2017 at 5:43:06pm