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NS Men: confused about when to apply to a US college? Keep reading.

The average student typically plans to attend college directly after graduation. For some students, opting for a “gap year” is a way to take time off between graduation and subsequent enrollment. For most Singaporean men, however, National Service (NS) is mandated, which effectively means that university enrollment must be deferred two years. Many colleges in the U.S. will allow deferment for a only year, but increasingly, universities are now accepting deferment for two years for reasons such as conscription. Thus, Singaporean men now have greater flexibility in planning their higher education journeys.

Advantages of applying before you start NS!

With more colleges accepting two year deferments, NS-goers can now opt to apply before their service begins. The greatest advantage? You can begin your service with the peace of mind that your academic future is secured. Another big advantage? You can reapply after a year if you are rejected from your college(s) of choice.

On top of that, because most students apply to college toward the end of their last pre-college school year, completing the necessary components of their application (i.e. recommendations, academic proficiency tests, personal statements, etc.) is generally easier. 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. Students who do 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.

Also, taking academic proficiency tests such as the ACT or SAT is easier for students who have recently studied the content, and gap year students may struggle to recall certain math formulas or grammar rules. Finally, answering questions such as “describe your leadership experience” for the personal statement is likely more straightforward to do now than if you hold off, as you will otherwise have to include your military service leadership experiences.

Which colleges allow two year deferments?

Of course, it is important that you check if the universities you want will allow your two year deferment.

Big-name colleges like MIT, Harvard, Notre Dame, Carnegie Mellon, and Stanford will definitely allow it if the reason is conscription. Now, smaller programs like Claremont McKenna are also allowing a two-year deferment. Interested in pursuing a highly ranked liberal arts degree to combine with your love for the sciences? Boston College is a safe bet! Have the biz-bug? Babson has one of the best entrepreneurship programs in the world and allows for a two-year deferment. CalTech, Columbia University, Dartmouth, Emory, Johns Hopkins, NYU, and Rice University are well-ranked programs that also provide students the flexibility to defer their admissions for two years. This is not an exhaustive list, and a bit of research, or even an email to your dream university can help.

Need help? Speak to us!

Confused about where to begin? Our admissions consultants are highly experienced in helping hundreds of Singaporeans navigate their pathway to college. Whether you want to apply in your last year of high school, or after your first year of NS, our experts can guide you in making the best decisions.

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Rafaya S

Author Rafaya S

Rafaya graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2010 and double-majored in Journalism & Sociology/Anthropology. After graduating, Rafaya lived and worked in NYC and Washington, DC, working as an editorial assistant at Asia Society, one of the world’s largest think tanks. In Pakistan, she worked with EducationUSA for over four years, helping prospective undergraduate and graduate students on their applications to universities in the U.S. Growing up in Pakistan, Singapore, and Indonesia, Rafaya attended UWCSEA in Singapore and graduated from Jakarta International School. She has experience with IGCSE, A Levels, IB, and U.S.

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