What to Know
Choosing to defer before you apply:
If you have yet to apply to college, be sure to note on your application that you’re considering a gap year. You can do this by explaining why you want to take a gap year and how you plan to spend your time off. Write this in the essay or personal statement part of your application.
Choosing to defer after being offered admission:
If you decide to defer after being admitted, you will need to contact the university and inquire about their deferment practices. At some universities, decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. Others may grant deferral upon request without need for additional information. Prepare to provide detailed information about your gap year if the college requires it. If you’re considering a gap year that has some relevant bearing on your intended course of study, be sure to indicate that when you make your request.
Things to consider when deferring admission:
Deferring admission may mean several things at different universities. You will lose your housing, you could lose your scholarships if they cannot be deferred too, and you may have to reapply for admission again after your gap year. Talk to the college and ask them about their deferral policies. The American Gap Year Association surveyed some colleges about their policies and their responses will help you see how different colleges handle deferrals.
What if the university denies your request?
If the college denies your request to defer, you have two options. You can enter college in the fall and opt to study abroad during your four-year college experience. Or you can take the year off to travel with a program and reapply the following year. Again, always remember to consider the opportunity and benefits a gap year presents.
If you request a deferment, you will lose your spot in the upcoming class.
Once you request the deferment, and the college approves your request, you cannot change your mind. Colleges release your spot to wait-listed students. Your decision will be final, so act confidently!
What to Do
Follow these 5 steps when requesting to take a gap year:
1: Do your research and determine which gap year is best for you.
2: Contact the admissions department and tell them that you are interested in taking a gap year.
3: Explain your reasons for taking a gap year, including any relevant information that might coincide with future study.
4: Contact the financial aid office to determine whether or not your scholarships and merit aid will still be available when you enter college the next year.
5: Secure approval from the college before beginning your gap year.
It’s relieving to know that college will still be an option when you return from a gap year. So if that was a fear holding you back, what else are you waiting for?