Gap years, once mostly associated with British and Australian students traveling the globe, have become more common among American students. A gap year is the year between high school and college; traditionally, it has been seen as an opportunity for travel or volunteer work before the work of college begins. Certain colleges have spoken in favor of gap years (Harvard and Princeton included–and Malia Obama is taking advantage of Harvard’s policy), and many now have policies allowing for deferred admission for students taking a gap year.
So is a gap year right for you? Here are some questions to consider if you’re interested in pursuing this opportunity.
Do NOT take a gap year thinking that it will make your college application more competitive. Colleges look mostly at academic records, so taking a year off to travel around Asia might make you a more interesting person, but it won’t likely swing the admissions team your way.
In the end, we want students to think this through as thoroughly as possible. You might be reading tons of positive stories about gap years, but we have found that much of this positive press comes from companies that offer gap year programs–so beware of bias! To get a less biased opinion, try connecting with students who have actually taken gap years, and try talking to the admissions office at your chosen college as well. Thoughtful and deliberate planning and research will give you the best sense of whether taking a gap year is the right move.
Need help adjusting your college application plans to accommodate a gap year? Our college planners can assist you in navigating the process. Call us at 720-216-2222 to make an appointment.