Michele was quoted in the Education Life section of the NY Times this week in response to gap year options. Thanks in part perhaps to President Obama’s daughter Malia opting to take a year off before college, gap years have become much more popular as burned out students are seeking a respite from the grind. There are many companies that specialize in designing gap year programs for students that combine travel abroad and community service. We recommend constructing your own gap year instead of using a pre-programmed option, one that focuses on developing an area of academic interest for at least part of the year combined with a “high impact” kind of idea that would show colleges what you plan to add to their class.
Though in theory, we like the idea of a year off, taking a gap year BEFORE you apply to college can be a negative at top colleges who are very focused on their enrollments and yields for the CURRENT year.
Here’s an excerpt from A College Application Guide for Gap Year Students:
Applying to college is onerous enough. Asking to defer enrollment for a year can be even more intimidating. Here’s how to navigate the gap-year process.
When to Apply to College
Delay freshman year, not your application. Students interested in a year off should still apply to college their senior year of high school, advises Michele Hernández, co-president of Top Tier Admissions and a former admissions officer at Dartmouth. It ensures that you’ll have access to your school’s resources and won’t be bogged down with applications and standardized testing during a year that may include travel abroad.
“You’d be surprised how quickly your high school forgets you,” Dr. Hernández said. “It’s really hard to go back and ask for teacher recommendations and the other materials you might need after a year has passed.”