A gap year is any amount of time taken off before or during college to pursue personal interests through volunteering, internships, work experience or travel. A gap year will help a student develop career goals and focus their academic interests, as well as build character. A gap year can be extremely beneficial, but there are a few things you should know before you take a gap year. 

Apply to College

Even if you plan to take a gap year, go ahead an apply to college during your senior year. It is easiest to complete applications during this time because you have the support and accountability of classmates, teachers and counselors. You may not have the appropriate resources available to apply during your gap year. USNews points out that you can request deferral for a year if you are accepted into your desired institution. When you submit a letter explaining your intentions in the spring or early summer, many colleges will grant you deferral. Colleges may even hold scholarships until you attend the following year.

Make a Plan

A year can slip by quickly if you don’t have a plan. A gap year is intended for personal growth and you should have goals that you want to pursue during that time. Gap years are most effectively spent in a specific enrichment program. This may be a volunteer program, a work program, or an overseas program. The more intentional you are about planning your gap year, the more benefits you will reap. 


Some gap year programs can result in money earned for education. Most volunteer programs will offer room and board in exchange for labor, some will also offer scholarships. AmeriCorps offers an education award of $5,815.00 for the year 2017. This amount is set by the Pell Grant amount and is subject to change year to year. 

Gap Year Supportive Colleges

Keep in mind that a gap year in the United States is gaining traction but is still non-traditional. If you are seriously considering a gap year, you may want to apply to an institution that is supportive of a gap year experience. This link provides a list of colleges and universities by state that are accommodating to a gap year. 

Discover Yourself

A gap year can be a valuable experience. Discover more about yourself and your ambitions with a well planned gap year.



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