How do colleges view a gap year?
If your gap year is structured and productive, colleges will likely view your “time on” very favorably. A gap year can provide students with the opportunity to learn, mature and discover what inspires them (all very valuable for success in college). It’s even possible that taking a gap year may make you a more desirable candidate for college, especially if you make good use of the time and experience.
When Princeton, Middlebury, or Northeastern University (Boston) speak, I listen! The Director of Admissions at Middlebury College studied the GPA and retention rates of Middlebury College students who took a GAP year between High School and College and was amazed to see that these students had higher GPAs, higher rates of persistence can maturity. Princeton runs a program that offers a gap year-like experience for incoming first year students. A small group from the application pool are offered the opportunity to spend their first semester with other PRinceton students on an international travel/study/service program. Northeastern offers a similar opportunity and actively recruits students who have international experience.
However – you need to be careful with this. If you are considering a GAP year, plan wisely. Ask the colleges you applied to or are thinking about applying to if if they woudl consider deferred admissions (would they let you accept their admissions offer, but wait a year/semester before you attended?). Also, if you do take a GAP year, HAVE A PLAN! Maybe you need to work to save money for college. Or maybe you are headed to the developing world on a service mission. Your time should be spent wisely and for a meaningful purpose.
Do not just roll the dice on this one. If you are considering a GAP year, check with the colleges that you have applied to and understand their requirements and policy.
Almost all colleges will view a gap year positively if a student has used it well.
Believe it or not, most colleges like the idea of a gap year! In fact, Harvard actually encourages admitted students to defer their admission for a year and approximately 50-70 students per year do just that. Harvard’s Dean of Admission, William Fitzsimmons, co-wrote a great piece entitled “Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation”…check it out! http://www.admissions.college.harvard.edu/apply/time_off/index.html
As in every situation, there will be differences between one institution and another, but how a college would view a gap year would depend very much on how the student used that time and how productive that gap year was.
There are many different ways to structure the year between graduating from high school and entering college, but it is important that there be a plan and some direction, so that the time just doesn’t pass by and end up being wasted.
Some are for, some are against, and it all depends on what, when, where, how & why the gap year was spent. Juvenile hall could be a serious negative. Working with tornado or other natural disaster victims would be a real plus.
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