2 years ago
Admissions Advice

What to do over a gap year? And is a Gap year a good idea

Because I’m moving to a new state/school for my senior year, I’m considering taking a gap year to get myself into the right mindset for college because I don’t feel ready ?

How would I go about this? Like what schools will allow me to defer admission for a year and what should I do during this time?

For reference, senior year I plan on taking 3 college classes online and taking 2 honors and 1 AP (im behind on summer coursework for AP because I moved so I don’t think I’ll be able to catch up).

Hopefully after that, I’ll continue to take some courses online, travel, and add stuff to my extracurriculars since I haven’t been able to this summer/any other summers because of COVID.

Lastly, how do I explain my choice to my parents 😔


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Accepted Answer
2 years ago

Any school you get into should allow you to take a gap year. Typically, gap years are permitted if you plan to do something that involves intellectual vitality/curiosity. It's much harder to secure a non-academic gap year because you want to travel. And colleges may not give out bonus points to add to your ECs once you are already admitted. Now if you are an Olympic Athlete and are taking a gap year to train for the Olympics, that's an EC that makes sense. For example, Eileen Gu took a gap year to train for the 2021 Winter Olympics after she was admitted to Stanford.

There are 2 ways to look at your gap year.

1. If you know up front that you are not a prime candidate/contender for your top choice reach schools, one can take a PG gap year at a private day school or boarding school in order to improve one's grades, course rigor, ECs, test scores, recommendations, and IV/IC. This is actually a very common thing for affluent families or recruited athletes who just are not good enough yet to make a DI or DIII college team. So you can apply to these private schools to pump up your application narrative in order to have a better chance of getting in say an Elite, Ivy, or top liberal arts college.

2. You can take a GAP year after you are accepted by the college you intend to matriculate. It's a simple form where you indicate what you are going to do during your gap year. Within a week or two they either approve or deny you. Also, Gap years can be renewed for an add'l year under certain provisions. So you have to check with the college prior to applying to make sure you understand their gap year policies. This option is better for students who are high achievers that are applying to their top choice school either ED/EA/RD and are super confident that they are going to get in somewhere good.

For example, I applied to Columbia U. ED and got accepted. After I got accepted I was concerned about COVID and wanted to be on a safe campus and not do online courses. My family and I researched boarding schools with a PG program. After I decided to apply, I contacted Columbia's admission office and asked them if they would approve this kind of gap year and give me a reading on if the chances of granting this were high. They answered in the affirmative so I proceeded to apply to about 6 boarding schools that have reputable post-graduate programs.

After I got my various acceptance letters and went back and forth with the top choices, I decided on Deerfield Academy because they seemed to want me the most and had some really interesting elective courses in English, History, and Religion. Since I had already fulfilled all my graduation requirements already, I was able to take 15 classes over 3 trimesters of my own choosing. Overall, it was a very positive experience and I challenged myself both in and out of the classroom and met some great teachers, admin, and another set of best friends.

I wish you the best in whatever you decide to do. Just make sure you have a plan of action.

Good luck

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