Blog: College Advising: Advantages of Taking a Year Off

A Gap Year is a year between high school and college for students to explore their creativity, service, or leadership. They can even earn money for their future college educations!

Wouldn’t we all like to take a year off to follow our dreams, give service, learn foreign language, or just travel?  Some students do just that by taking a Gap Year between high school and college. Who are these students and aren’t they risking their futures by not going directly on to higher education?

First of all, most colleges allow for a one-year gap.  If you have applied to college and are waiting for acceptances right now, consider your options. If you want (or should) take a year off, don’t worry. Once the college decisions are mailed (by April 1st), just notify your first choice college and ask them to hold that acceptance for a year. (When you do, ask about financial aid awards in case they have to be reconsidered.)

Students who take a Gap Year do so for many good reasons.  Some are over-stressed by the rigors of high school. They need time to refresh their enthusiasm for learning. Others want to explore a hobby that they haven’t had time for in high school. Some students didn’t get the acceptance they wanted and want to reapply. These students can hold another offer, then use the Gap Year to enrich their lives and become better applicants to their dream school. Other students feel they are not ready for college and would benefit from working for a year. These are all decisions that are best made within the family.

Filling a Gap Year can be great fun. What students should not do is take college courses. While auditing classes is allowed, if a high school graduate takes college classes for credit, he/she will have to apply as a transfer student which requires 24 units and can take two or more years to complete!

Some of the wonderful things students have done during their Gap Years include:  Yeshiva studies in Israel, doing a mission project in Africa, joining a rock band, taking extended high school classes, earning money for college, or working in a lab.  Why not?  If you’re the kind of student with an exceedingly active and creative mind, a Gap Year is just right for exploring your options.

If you’re burned out or not ready for intensive college studies, a Gap Year will help build up your direction and enthusiasm for learning again.

So consider your path for the optimum you!


All the best from www. PerfectFitCollege.Net


This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jones Foyer February 21, 2013 at 04:22 PM
I really don't recall high school being that difficult or time consuming. I suppose if there's no hurry it would be nice to have a free year, but I wouldn't waste time on anything that wouldn't look good on a college admission form. Joining a rock band? Not a good idea. Learning a foreign language and doing a mission project? Much better. I would venture to assume that any prestigious college would not look favorably upon any prospective student who told them the high school was "mentally fatiguing" or "scholastically demanding," because college will be much more so. I would simply guess (again, I am not on a college admissions board) that any college would rather have a student who said high school was easy and couldn't wait to start the challenge of college.
Donna Evans February 21, 2013 at 05:10 PM
I wondered about the rock band suggestion too, Jones. But I can tell you, and I know it's true also for a friend of mine who, like me, attended an all girls Catholic school: for us, college was easier than high school. What tripped me up in college was freedom: Mom didn't yell for me to get out of bed and go to class. Teachers in a 300-student lecture didn't chase me down to say I was missing class. That's the kind of stuff that caused this 3.4 gpa kid in high school to earn academic probation freshman year :-(
Patti Brugman February 24, 2013 at 03:59 PM
Thank you for your excellent comment, James. Students in this area who are headed for college, work very hard in high school in order to secure excellent admissions. The purpose of a Gap Year for any student is twofold. One is to work (or play) as preparation for a better college experience. The other is to discover who they really are. For example, rock musician and Pasadena native, Eddie Van Halen, didn't need college. While I am in the business of preparing kids for their best college admissions, I am always looking for the student's passion. What they desire to learn and master should be what leads them to their happiest future, whether or not that includes a college education. Take care.
Vita Brevis February 25, 2013 at 04:58 AM
I wonder if JF has a HS student, or currently knows any. And I remember Ms. Evans sharing that she didn't have any children. There is enormous pressure that teens (and their parents, especially in this community) feel to compete against the huge # of applicants to the colleges of their choice, as well as the workforce beyond. These kids are expected to pull a 4.25 GPA (!) and have a slate of AP classes before their senior year and play a competitive sport as well as do community service. They work hard, are busy all day and into the night and weekends. Yes, some burn out, and can't handle their first year at college and drop out then. And joining a band isn't some sort of a slacker pastime! Playing music with others require hard work and commitment and the ability to communicate with others. All Ms. Brugman is suggesting is that the pursuit of someone's interests outside of the structure of academia is a worthwhile way to spend one's gap year. It's not often in life that one gets the opportunity to take the time and regroup.
Patti Brugman February 25, 2013 at 06:32 PM
Dear Vita: Excellent points. It is often our most ambitious students who choose to take a Gap Year. By taking on an independent project, service, or job for one year, they make themselves so much more irresistible to very competitive colleges. During that year, ambitious students have a chance to achieve something on their own that shows their passion which is exactly the energy that high school sometimes saps from kids. It is also the kind of energy that colleges crave for their freshmen classes. Thanks for the respect for musicians of all kinds, too. I quite agree.


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