2 years ago
Admissions Advice

I'm a junior, but I'll take a gap year. What should I prioritize?

I'm a junior, but for certain reasons I will be graduating a year earlier than is standard. Because of this, I've decided to take a gap year and enroll in college in the fall of 2024. Should I even care about things like choosing a school since I'm several years away?

I'd also appreciate some planning resources for someone in my situation, since because it isn't common, there are very few resources available.


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1 answer

Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

I think taking a gap year and managing your own time, priorities, schedule and college admissions strategy is a risky proposition regardless of whether you have fulfilled your graduation requirements or not.

When you don't have to get up everyday to attend classes or do homework or study for tests or write papers or work on projects, there is uncertainty that you will be able to use and structure your time so you end up with a just as an impressive set of accomplishments as you have during 9th-10th when no one is looking or keeping you accountable except yourself.

There are 3 basic transcript types, a.) someone that always gets As and puts the pedal to the metal. b.) someone that had a rough beginning through COVID-19 and now has an upward trend in course rigor and grades, and c.) Someone who has a mixed of grades and course rigor whose grades are up and down but generally very good.

If you fall into the last c.) category, then I think college admissions officers will be more lenient an forgiving with your 'gap' year because you are probably not going to be applying to T25 schools anyway. However if you are an a.) or b.) type, then college admissions officers will expect to see some impressive accomplishment that you did during your gap year? They expect come kind of continuity with your academic and EC trajectory versus a dip or a leveling off.

If your intent is apply to T25 schools then you have to accept a few facts that will not change whether you apply next year or not.

-T25 admissions will continue to be more and more competitive, meaning lower admit rates and a more impressive applicant pool to choose from.

-Test optional doesn't mean test blind. So there is increased benefit for submitting a high SAT/ACT test score.

-In a post COVID pandemic where COVID becomes more of a seasonal virus that will continue to mutate for years to come, there is increased expectations from AOs that high achieving students have more opportunities to do community service, hold leadership positions, pursue Varsity sports and other ECs that were cancelled or put online.

That being said, you will be judged not only against how you individually performed within your school's available resources and opportunities but against other peers who are going to complete their 12th grade and other peers from neighboring schools in your district and other cities in your state.

I'm not here to tell you what to do with your GAP year but I will say that you should make sure that your academic narrative and ECs are a good as possible. Why? Because those who are not taking a gap year may or may not better grades, test scores, IV/IC, ECs, etc than you do because they are remaining in HS for the full duration.

-Academics including course rigor (APs/IBs/DE/College courses), Test scores SAT/ACT, Intellectual Vitality/Curiosity

-ECs including any gaps in community service, leadership positions, sports/arts/music/theater/dance if those are part of your EC spike or repertoire.

Good luck on your year off.

What are your chances of acceptance?
Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

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