I'd like to defer any college acceptances I have to take a gap year. Do schools tend to find this problematic? Is there a chance that they will retroactively reject me?


Amy Yvette Garrou, College admissions expert (US and international colleges)

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I agree with all the other writers' responses. I would simply add that, to my knowledge, the only reason a college could rescind your offer of admission once they have approved your gap year is if you don't comply with the rules they have set for what you can do during your gap year. You should be sure you understand their conditions for approving your gap year; usually, they clearly state this in their letter or email to you approving your gap year.

For example, many colleges limit the number of credit hours you can earn during your gap year to less than one semester's worth (12 hours, for example). Essentially, they don't want you using your gap year to attend another college full-time.

Similarly, some of the most selective colleges say that you cannot use your gap year to apply to other colleges. How is this enforceable, you may be wondering? Well, your high school counselor is usually in the loop if you're asking your college for a gap year in April of senior year. That same counselor may receive your request to send College B and College C your final transcripts during your gap year if you apply somewhere else, and could (should) ask to see the conditions of your gap year before sending your transcript. Many college admission offices have strong relationships with high-school counselors (that's a good thing when you, the student, are asking a college for a favor, such as a gap year!) and may ask the counselor if they have any reason to doubt that you are obeying the terms of your gap year.

So the take-away is: Definitely ask for a gap year after you've been accepted to a college (in April of senior year); have a plan for your gap year; be aware of the college's conditions for your gap year; and be honest: hold up your end of the bargain, since they are holding a valuable place for you to enter a year later without re-applying.

Best wishes as you make plans!

Maryann Aita, NYU graduate and Sarah Lawrence College MFA writing candidate

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After you've been accepted to a college, you can always speak with the school to ask about the possibility of deferring your admission for a year. It's rare for a school to rescind an offer of admission, so as long as you are respectful and explain your reasons for wanting a deferral, the worst they would do is not accept the deferral.

Every school is different, so not all schools will be ok with a gap year. Often, schools are more interested in your reasons for delaying admission so be sure you have a clear one in mind. When I was accepted to college, I wanted to take a gap year to work and save money, but was told I had to start in the fall if I wanted to keep my place, which I did. Another thing to consider is financial aid. If you are offered a big scholarship, you might be able to defer your attendance, but you could lose that scholarship.

Dr. Aaron Smith, Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Currently Program Director at Aviation Academy, Co-Author of Awakening Your STEM School

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I would first look at the application and the college's policies for admission criteria. Here you will see for yourself how schools react to delaying your entry into college. For some colleges, it will not be a problem and in others it may create a hardship.

When applying to schools, I would not suggest not sharing it with them initially. Once you get accepted, then it would be a good idea to discuss this with an admission officer. If they accept a gap year, I highly recommend that you get it in writing from the person you spoke with as it may not be updated in records accurately.

Jessica Tomer, Writer, word nerd, and Editor-in-Chief at CollegeXpress

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I agree with the insights offered by Ms. Aita and Dr. Smith. I'd also like to add that some schools actually encourage gap years or have them built into their curriculums. And they tend to be highly selective schools at that. This is because a gap year can be an excellent opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you want out of college and life, though I suspect you're already aware of this, since you're thinking about taking one! (Also, this article, written by two gap year consultants, is obviously super pro-gap year, but it offers a neat glimpse at the practice for anyone else interested in taking one.)

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