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25 Colleges That Allow Gap Years

November 10, 2020

Not quite ready to jump into college life? A gap year may be just what you need! A gap year is a year you take off from your studies, typically between high school graduation and college matriculation. You could spend the year working at an internship, traveling the country, or volunteering overseas. 

However, not every college allows you to take a gap year. While you live life during your time off, the college you were admitted to has to hold your seat, which is a process known as deferred enrollment. 

Gap years are becoming increasingly popular. The benefits are evident. Here’s a list of colleges and universities that allow you to take advantage of a year-long break.

  1. Harvard University

The top ivy league even boasts a Harvard Gap Year Society. From their admissions website:
“We encourage admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way—provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college.”

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

MIT strongly encourages taking a gap year.
“We encourage students to take a gap year to explore and grow. Every year we have a number of students apply to MIT after a gap year and more students who request a gap year after being admitted to MIT. Taking a gap year before applying to MIT simply gives students more experiences to share with us through the application process.”

  1. New York University

At NYU, you have to fill out a deferred enrollment request form and it has to be approved before you can take your gap year.
“If you’ve been offered admission as a first-year student to NYU, you may request to defer your enrollment for one full year. If your request is approved, you do not have to file a new application and are guaranteed readmission for the following year.”

  1. Florida State University

FSU even offers financial assistance to its students taking a gap year.
“FSU is proud to be one of the few universities in the country (and the second public university) to offer financial assistance to students taking a gap year. Students applying for a gap year deferment can choose to apply to become a Gap Year Fellow, which offers up to $5,000 to support their gap year. FSU is committed to helping make the transformative opportunities afforded by a gap year accessible to students regardless of their family’s income.”

  1. George Washington University

GW requires a non-refundable $800 enrollment deposit and Declaration of Intent.
“If you have been offered admission as a first-year or transfer student, you may request to defer your enrollment for up to one year. Please use this process only as a final step once you are ready to defer the start of your academic career at GW.”

  1. Vassar College

At Vassar College, gap years are allowed with permission.
“Admitted first-year students may defer entry to Vassar for one year with the permission of the Office of Admission. Students who are taking a gap year must confirm their intent to enroll at Vassar by submitting the Candidate’s Reply Card and the required enrollment deposit by May 1, and must complete the Deferral Request Form, available on the Admitted Students website, no later than May 22.” 

  1. Wesleyan University

As of 2020, a deposit is required to take a gap year at Wesleyan and typically only 20-25 students are approved for a gap year in each class.
“To secure a place in the Class of 2024 and explore the possibility of a gap year, students must first make a deposit. Once a deposit is received, students may request a one-year deferral. The request must be made by June 1 and include information on how the student plans to spend their time. Once the student’s request for deferment is received and approved, a formal letter acknowledging their deferred status will be sent. Students may not apply to nor enroll full-time at another institution of higher education during this time.”  

  1. Tufts University

The university offers special gap year programs known as First-Year Global Programs that provide the opportunity to travel abroad for language learning and community outreach. Unfortunately, the 2020-2021 programs were suspended due to COVID-19.
“The decision to defer is an important one. Students should feel free to exercise that option without jeopardizing their place at Tufts if their motivation is sincere and their plan for the time away promises to be productive.”

  1. Colorado College

Colorado College states that it’s very likely your gap year will be approved.
“Typically, approximately fifty to sixty admitted students elect to delay the start of their Colorado College education by designing and pursuing a year-long adventure of their own making. An additional 40 students admitted to our Winter Start program will embark on a personalized semester-long gap experience in the fall semester before reuniting with their classmates in January to enroll in their first block on campus.”

  1. Johns Hopkins University

JHU holds that approval of gap years are not automatic and that some programs do not allow for admission deferral.
“All deferral requests are subject to review and approval by both the Program and the Admissions Office. If the deferral is denied or the deferred student cannot enroll in a program for the approved term, he or she will have to submit a new application.”

  1. Princeton University

Princeton offers a unique sponsored gap year program to incoming undergraduate students.
“Students who wish to take a year off from their studies may request to defer their enrollment for one year (and sometimes for an additional year). If you pursue this, you may not enroll full time in a degree program at another institution during the deferral period. In recent years the activities of students taking a year off have included work, community service, travel, military service, arts training and religious studies.”

  1. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

UNC-Chapel Hill has a special partnership with Global Citizen Year called the Global Gap Year Fellowship.
“Carolina welcomes proposals from admitted undergraduate students who wish to defer their enrollment for one academic year in order to work, travel, or pursue some other extraordinary opportunity. Admitted applicants may also seek one-year deferrals for military service, required religious observance, or medical reasons.”

  1. Stanford University

Put in a request to defer your enrollment at Stanford.
“If you plan to attend Stanford, but wish to request a deferral of your enrollment, submit your request through the Stanford Admission Response form in your Application Status Portal.”

  1. Columbia University

You must submit a first-year response form and deposit before you’re able to defer your enrollment.
“A candidate who has been offered first-year admission may ask to defer enrollment for a year to work, travel, complete mandatory military service or pursue a special opportunity. A first-year student may not defer admission in order to enroll full-time at another college or university. A second year of deferral may be granted upon request.”

  1. Yale University

At Yale, you’re allowed to postpone matriculation for one year.
From their blog: “When prospective Yalies choose to matriculate, each is presented with the opportunity to take a Gap Year. Basically, all Yale students have the option of taking a full year off to take advantage of whatever their heart desires.”

  1. University of Pennsylvania

The university offers gap year resources.
“Each year approximately fifty Penn students chose to take a gap year, whether as admitted high school seniors prior to matriculating, or between years at Penn. They pursue passions and interests, gain work experience, travel, nurture relationships with family and friends, and more. When they return to campus, these students frequently report that their gap year has been a deeply meaningful and formative experience, and studies indicate that the benefits of taking a gap year are many and wide-ranging.”

  1. Duke University

Duke also offers a Duke Gap Year Program.
“As you prepare for college, you may find yourself wanting to explore other interests such as personal and professional development, religious or mission work, travel, or required military service. Generally, Duke students do a one-year gap, but depending on the request we can approve up to two years.”

  1. Dartmouth College

Dartmouth provides a step-by-step guide on how to take a gap year before enrolling.
“Dartmouth believes that getting more individuals involved in service programs will have a positive effect on the civic health of our society, and is committed to helping students who plan to enroll at the College learn about service year opportunities.”

  1. Brown University

Brown acknowledges the benefits of taking a gap year.
“We have found that students often benefit from taking time between high school and college. Some students will choose not to apply to college during their senior year, to take time off and then apply during the gap year. Others will choose to apply during their senior year, and ask permission to take a gap after they are admitted. If you choose the latter option, you will wait until after you have accepted Brown’s offer of admission to request, in writing, permission to defer your admission for one year.”

  1. Vanderbilt University

At Vanderbilt, admission deferral is approved on a case-by-case basis.
“Deferral requests are often approved for students seeking additional educational or personal enrichment opportunities such as travel, internships, or service, or for students who have religious reasons or military obligations.”

  1. Rice University

Gap years are approved upon submitting a detailed plan.
“At Rice, we understand the value of a gap year and support students seeking a formative, meaningful experience outside the classroom before beginning their college education. Gap year activities come in many forms including extended travel abroad, research and internships, community service, or working to earn money. Successful gap year proposals demonstrate clear intent with goals and a plan that will make the candidate a better student when they arrive on campus. Whether the gap year takes the form of a single year-long pursuit or participation in multiple opportunities over the course of a year, the experience should be a time for personal enrichment.”

  1. Washington University in St. Louis

First-year WashU students can take a gap year after completing enrollment materials and submitting a deposit.
“WashU recognizes that a small number of first year students each year may request to defer their admission for a year and take a gap year to complete military service, religious commitments, or a well-defined, substantial personal growth opportunity. Deferral requests are evaluated by the Admissions Office on a case-by-case basis, and are only offered for one year.”

  1. Cornell University

Cornell supports taking a gap year and wants to discuss your plans for your gap year.
“Cornell University broadly supports the notion of a gap year experience for students between high school and college. Successful gap year experiences start with a well-developed plan and include personal goals. We encourage students considering Cornell for their undergraduate education to apply and gain admission before requesting an enrollment deferral to participate in a gap year experience.”

  1. Emory University

Emory has no cap on the number of deferral requests for a gap year.
“As with previous years, deferral requests are considered holistically and on a case-by-case basis. Students are encouraged to provide as much information about their plans as possible when they submit their request. . .Emory University does not have a cap on how many students can defer enrollment. The university has never operated with such a cap, and we do not plan to have one this year.”

  1. University of Michigan–Ann Harbor

U-M lists “unique travel or work opportunity” and “cultural enrichment opportunity” as acceptable reasons to defer enrollment. In other words, a gap year!
“Deferment of admission is an option for admitted first-year students who wish to delay their enrollment at U-M because of personal needs or interests outside of college or university level academic course work. If college courses are taken during the gap year, the student will have to reapply as a transfer student and receive a new admission decision which will include consideration of the new academic information.”

What all gap year colleges have in common: don’t apply to another school during your gap year!

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