Official Gap Year Colleges & Universities
Official Gap Year Colleges are pre-vetted institutions of higher education that have a pro-gap year approach. This means that past gap year graduates have chosen to attend these schools, and the schools themselves have good opportunities for experiential learning. Official Gap Year Colleges are supporters of the Gap Year Association, and work with us to grow the gap year movement through gap year research, scholarships for gap year graduates, and facilitate an intentional return to campus after the gap year. In this way, they are smart about maximizing the impact of a more mature student on their campus - for the benefit of the gap year graduate and the many students they're able to influence.
Of course, our curated list of college & university deferral policies for gap years, is a great place to compare deferral policies for both Official Gap Year Colleges and any other college that might be of interest.
Helping Gap Year Students Navigate the College Process
On average, 90% of gap year graduates make their way back to university within a year. It is important to keep this statistic in mind when advising gap year students, in fact, we encourage gap year students to apply to university as a part of their gap year planning process. We suggest gap year applicants:
- Apply to college as regular - it is a lot easier to put together college application materials locally where you have access to your high school counselor, your academic letters, and communication is logistically simpler
- Inquire with the admissions counselors about their policy on gap years. This is a 'hypothetical' question to be asked, and will give you more information about the specific school without saying you'll throw off their admissions numbers
- Get accepted (knock on wood) and pay the deposit to hold your space depending on the above answer. DO NOT compromise your integrity and deposit at two colleges or otherwise be dishonest - this will inevitably come back to haunt you
- Ask for a "deferral." More and more universities are adopting a formal policy around deferrals as they're seeing more students ask for these. In some cases, deferrals are specifically to take a gap year - and we always encourage announcing those plans clearly and honestly - but in other cases, students are simply looking to take the time to work and earn a bit of money for college. We also curate a list of university deferral policies for gap years.
After the gap year, each graduate will want to make sure they do a few key things relevant to college. Indeed, most universities are thrilled to hear that a student is planning an intentional gap year, they know the statistics showing that students who travel before attending university are more mature, driven, and prepared are spreading rapidly: gap years tend to open doors for students, both academically and in their future careers. When working with university admissions we encourage students and educators to be aware of these Data & Benefits.
- Take the time to think about how you'll explain what you did and what you learned. This is good for college admissions, scholarships, and stories for friends and families
- Ask your school to reevaluate your financial aid package. Gap year graduates are great students and you can make a case that you should receive more in merit aid
- Reconsider your college choice. In the vast majority of cases, students choose to go to the college they deferred from, but in some cases a gap year graduate will choose a different college as a result of what they experienced on their gap year.