Considering the “Gap Year” (Part Two)

Written by Nell McCormack Abom, Host Smart Talk TV | Feb 3, 2010 2:33 AM


I believe the answer to the gap year question is simple. “Take the time off!  Invest in yourself. Do what you need to do to so when you enter college you are ready to embrace the experience with focus and determination.”


The college years should not be entered with hesitation or reservation. Don’t allow your enrollment in a college to be an accident of circumstance. College campuses are full of students who don’t know why they are there. As a result, many of them leave early.


When you enter, do so with a sense of purpose—a conviction that that college campus is where you need to be in order to lay the foundation for future success and happiness. And if you need to take some time away from the classroom to get your head clear or just to try something different before getting started, good for you!


My experience is that colleges value the added maturity and perspective students bring with them after having taken a year off—especially if that time has been spent productively. I can’t imagine that admission committees wouldn’t welcome students who contribute to a broader range of life experiences.


Having said that, you have two options with regard to declaring your gap year intentions. One, you can inform the admission committee of your intent when you apply for admission. Two, you can apply for admission without reference to the gap year and then, upon gaining admission, seek a deferral of your enrollment for a year.


I recommend the latter for two very practical reasons. Despite the tacit endorsement of the gap year by admission officers, you don’t want questions about your intent to enroll to enter into their deliberations.


More importantly, though, it will be much easier for you to complete the application process while you are still in school. You will be in rhythm with the rest of your peers as you complete your applications and you will have direct access to your school-based support system (counselor, teachers, coaches, etc.) as you pull together the various elements of your applications. Attacking the college application process 8-10 months after graduation will put you at a disadvantage, as you might not have easy access to the people and information you need.


In the final analysis, don’t assume that you need to go to college just because “it’s what you do after high school.” We don’t all work on the same developmental “clock.” For some, college makes great sense right after high school. Others, however, find great benefit in taking some time off. The “gap year” is an opportunity to be embraced—I wish more students would feel confident in taking advantage it!


Peter Van Buskirk is an author, consultant, speaker and creator of the Best College Fit™ Resources. Visit to learn more about Peter and his student-centered approach to college planning.

Published in Life After 12th Grade

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