7 Quotes from College Administrators on the Benefits of a Gap Year

By: Camille Heidebrecht | April 7, 2015
Topics: Education, Gap Year Planning
The popularity of taking a gap year continues to gain momentum, even among the Ivies. Students come back more focused on a course of study and major, have better study habits, and make more informed decisions on a career choice.

We’ve highlighted the steps students need to take a college deferment. More publications are picking up the story on the value of a gap year, from the New York Times, to the Boston Globe, and the benefits of a gap year are many. But what do colleges think about gap years?


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Here’s what college deans and administrators are saying about taking a gap year:

Florida State Gap YearFlorida State

Joe O’Shea as director of Florida State University’s Office of Undergraduate Research, head of the AGA board, and author of the Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in the Ways the World Needs has cited in gap year articles and in his book.

1. “One telling observation is that many students who take gap years end up changing their intended major after returning. During college, their gap year experiences enrich their courses, strengthen co-curricular endeavors, and animate undergraduate research and creative projects.”

2. “Going overseas helps to cultivate a type of independence and self-confidence that staying close to home in a familiar environment probably does not. Furthermore, taking the traditional kind of gap year after high school helps students to take full advantage of their time in college.

Middlebury College Gap YearMiddlebury College

Bob Clagett served as Dean of Admissions at Middlebury College. He also served as Director of College Counseling at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, TX, and as the Senior Admissions Officer at Harvard University for 21 years.

3. “Stepping off the educational treadmill for six months or a year between high school and college can be an important way to remind themselves of what their education should really be about. It can also lead to a much more productive experience once they are enrolled in college, since those students will frequently be more mature, more focused, and more aware of what they want to do with their college education.”

4. “The prevailing wisdom is that kids are going to lose their hard-earned study skills if they take a gap year. The opposite is true.”

Princeton Gap YearPrinceton

A poignant quote from Fred A. Hargadon, then Dean of Admissions at Princeton University.

5. “I am convinced that one’s college education is greatly enhanced by the maturity, experience, and perspective a student can bring post gap year.” Princeton’s Bridge Year is a tuition-free program that allows a select number of incoming freshmen to begin their Princeton experience by engaging in nine months of University-sponsored service at one of five international locations. In addition to supporting community-based initiatives at each program site, Bridge Year aims to provide participants with greater international perspective and intercultural skills, an opportunity for personal growth and reflection, and a deeper appreciation of service in both a local and international context.

Harvard Gap YearHarvard

William Fitzsimmons, dean of admissions and financial aid at Harvard University promotes gap years to his Ivy League students.

6. “The feedback from students almost all the time has been that this experience was transformative. The more life experience you bring, the better off you are in school.”

“Occasionally students are admitted to Harvard or other colleges in part because they accomplished something unusual during a year off. While no one should take a year off simply to gain admission to a particular college, time away almost never makes one a less desirable candidate or less well prepared for college.”

Connecticut College Gap YearConnecticut College

Martha Merrill, as dean of admission and financial aid at Connecticut College, encourages students to study abroad and take a gap year.

7. “It’s reached the point where a lot of us in admissions are talking about ways to get students to just kind of relax [between high school and college].

A detailed list of colleges in support of gap years and deferment:

Here’s a comprehensive list of colleges that are fully in support of taking a gap year you can view on the American Gap Association’s (AGA) website.

There are so many reasons to pick the perfect program and embark on the journey of a lifetime before heading right to campus.

Sources: American Gap Association, prestigious college websites, various blogs and articles about exploring the idea of a gap year.


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