In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?

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Our counselors answered:

In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?

Here are a few: If you were fortunate enough to travel extensively & see other cultures You'll surely develop a sense of maturity being out in the real world It will broaden your horizons You'll get a taste of how others live beyond the confines of suburbia You'll probably see poverty you never imagined & living conditions that were abominable You'll have a sense of accomplishment by helping others if you become involved in community service or disaster relief Helping those less fortunate always gives one a warm fuzzy feeling And much, much more...

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?

A gap year can absolutely be beneficial to a student! It will enable the student to gain one more year of maturity before launching his/her university career and can be a valuable interlude between high school and college, during which the student can discover more about him/herself. This additional self-knowledge will faciltate the making of more informed choices with regard to college selection and major options. In order to be a truly valuable experience, however, the gap year should be well planned. The time can be spent in many different ways, depending on the interests and resources (or lack of them) of the student. What will not be beneficial is for the student to discover, a year later, that he/she has completely wasted that year. That is the reason that it is important to be pro-active in planning the gap year ahead of time, rather than just letting it happen. Possibilities: - Work to earn money for college - Do volunteer work, either locally, somewhere else in the student's own country, or internationally - Study a foreign language, either locally or in conjunction with a program in another country - Serve an internship in a field of interest - Take various courses of interest at a local community college - Travel abroad - Some countries, like Australia, offer work/travel visas - You can probably think of other worthwhile activities to plug into a gap year. What not to do: - Hang around the house watching TV

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?

A gap year can be beneficial because it gives students a chance to pursue a passion. Learn about it, be exposed to it, do it which will be viewed very positively in college admission offices and usually allows the student to enter a more mature confident and goal directed individual.

Lora Lewis
Educational Consultant Lora Lewis Consulting

In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?

A gap year can help you mature, gain real world experience, and learn how to live independently. They also require you to step outside your comfort zone (sometimes WAY outside), and can be instrumental in helping you discover your passions and sense of self. Colleges appreciate these qualities in applicants; they also like knowing that a student who successfully completed a gap year certainly has the maturity, intellectual curiosity, initiative and self-discipline to be successful in higher education.

Jessica Brondo
Founder and CEO The Edge in College Prep

In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?

Some schools recommend it for applicants who were young for their class year. College is a big lifestyle change from high school, and an extra year of experience for students who are younger than their high school classmates can be crucial. Gap years can be highly beneficial if the applicant is productive in their time off. Whether they volunteered for a cause, took classes to earn credit beforehand, or worked a job to earn money to pay for school, colleges want to see that they have something to show for the year they took off. If an applicant can easily and ably demonstrate how they grew and benefited from their time off and what they learned (even working at Starbucks can teach you something!) then colleges will likely respect their decision and consider it favorably in an application.

Suzanne Shaffer
Owner Parents Countdown to College Coach

In what ways, if any, can taking a gap year be beneficial for an applicant?

Gap years are beneficial if the student has a plan: study abroad, travel the world, volunteer overseas, work at an internship, etc. Taking a year off to decide whether or not college is for you is not the best idea. If you do this, take some community college courses so that once you do decide, you will have some classes under your belt.