Six Questions Most Students Ask Before Taking A Gap Year

Photo Credit: GYS student

  1. Would I be behind after taking a Gap Year?

Absolutely not! We understand that this is a common concern of both students and parents though. One of the ways they express their concern is wondering if missing math or not being “academic” for a year will cause a form of learning “atrophy”. This turns out not to be the case. Studies have shown that students who take a Gap Year end up graduating with higher GPAs. In fact, students who take a Gap Year feel more prepared, ready to learn and are more engaged academically and socially after they arrive on campus.

  1. What happens if I choose a different program than my major of study?

While there are no absolutes when it comes to the deferral process and college policies regarding majors and other areas such as transfer credits, for the most part students will find that colleges are flexible. We find that colleges are wiling to work with Gappers to accommodate changes in majors and undergraduate programs. It is up to the student to take the initiative to reach out to their college and ensure that things are in order for their enrollment.

  1. I would like to apply for College, should I apply before or after I take a Gap Year?

We highly recommend that high school seniors apply to colleges as they normally would. Students would then decide on their school, and put down a deposit to hold their place by the deadline. Seniors who are considering a Gap Year will often be thinking about and researching options during their last semester, and checking in with their school of choice to make sure they understand the deferral policies and process. Currently, every school has a unique process, and while there are many similarities, it is super important to understand how it works for the student’s own school. Having said this, we have worked with students who choose to apply to college during the first portion of their Gap Year. This is for many reasons, including not knowing what they want to study in college, not getting accepted to their preferred schools, and sometimes simply because they delayed the whole college application process.

  1. How do I find the right project(s) for me?

Typically students participate in multiple activities during their Gap Year. We tend to think of a Gap Year as broken up into segments, almost like college semesters. There is almost never just one “project” during this time (examples of a long, single activity would be something such as City Year or a year long language immersion program). We work with our students to structure a Gap Year plan that includes a number of experiences based on their interests and goals. These include internships, jobs, service and volunteer opportunities, travel, adventure, leadership and many others.

  1. Are there gap year scholarships or financial aid available?

Many programs offer financial assistance and scholarships to help with affordability, and there are also other grants available specifically to support Gap Year experiences. We suggest enrolling in structured Gap Year programs as early in the process as possible, since funds do run out. Parents can utilize funds from 529 accounts if there will be college credits earned during the program. Also some colleges are now offering stipends to support admitted students who are deferring enrollment to pursue a Gap Year. UNC has done this for several years, and Duke will be awarding up to $15,000 to support their Gap Year.  In addition, many of our students work during their Gap Year and will often use their earnings to help pay for a Gap Year program. Lack of financial resources should NEVER be a reason not to consider a Gap Year!

  1. Do Colleges like Gap Years? Will my application to College be accepted after I take a Gap Year?

Colleges love Gap Years! We recently surveyed U.S. colleges and universities about their attitudes towards Gap Years, and with few exceptions, schools embrace the benefits that Gap Years bring to students. A few comments we received during our research:

  • Boston College: “We fully support the decision to take a gap year”
  • Reed College: “We support the passions of admitted students and how they achieve their educational goals, which we understand may involve a gap year”
  • NC State: “We see them as beneficial to a student’s intellectual growth and maturity”
  • Clark University: “We love students who participate in experiential and alternative learning experiences”

This post originally appeared on United Planet on May 13, 2019 as “Six Questions Most Students Ask Before Taking A Gap Year? Gap Year Consultant, Katherine Stievater, Shares Expertise With United Planet.”

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