The average high school student typically plans to attend college after graduating high school. But for various reasons, some students do a “gap year” that is, take time off between their high school graduation date and subsequent enrollment in college. Reasons for deferring college entrance may include age (some programs, such as medicine in the United Kingdom do not matriculate students who are under 18 years old), mandatory military service (for countries like Singapore, South Korea, and Israel), and finances (the student may need to work first to save up enough money to pay tuition).
Taking a gap year can present some problems, because if a student decides to go on a gap year before applying to college, he or she may encounter a bit of difficulty in completing their application. How can this be so?
The average high school student applies to college while they are still in school, usually in the fall of their senior year. Because they are still students, completing the necessary components of their application (i.e. recommendations, academic proficiency tests, personal statements, etc.) tends to be easier. For instance, school counselors are typically more attentive towards current students, as part of their job is ensuring that a portion of the graduating class attends college. A student who does not secure recommendations from their teachers and counselors before going on a gap year may find themselves a bit of a pickle if they return and find out that their favorite teacher has retired or moved away. Taking academic proficiency tests like the ACT or SAT can be easier for students who have recently studied the content, versus gap year students who may struggle to recall what a particular math formula is used for. And answering questions for the personal statement like describe your leadership experience may be challenging to recall for gap year students applying a year later when their leadership experience all occurred in high school.
Therefore, it is advisable for students considering a gap year to apply to colleges while they are still in high school and request to defer their enrollment. This means they will apply with other students starting college the following year, but request permission from colleges to push off the date of their enrollment for one year. For example, the normal timeline for a student applying to colleges in fall 2017 would be to start in fall 2018, but instead of enrolling in fall 2018, the gap year student would start in the fall of 2019.
A Checklist for Students Considering Deferred Admission
– Check the school’s deferral policies before applying. Not all schools will allow deferrals.
– Secure counselor and teacher recommendations before graduation.
– Take academic proficiency tests while academics are still fresh in your mind.
– Take account of all the extra/co-curricular activities you have participated in while in school, again while things are still fresh in your mind.
– Lay out a plan for your gap year – if you are taking a gap year for reasons other than mandatory military service, or finances, you will need to present to the school an account of what you plan to be doing during your gap year.