New York Times Features Groundbreaking College Partnership

Sometimes, after a hectic high school experience overshadowed by a competitive — or perhaps, disappointing — college admissions process, seniors just need a break.

The idea of a gap year between high school and college could be tempting to students who are not ready to transition to the next level of education. And there are many ways to fill the deferred freshman year. You could travel. Get a job. Pursue a passion that has nothing to do with your professional or academic aspirations. You could breathe.

What’s to stop a student from taking such a hiatus? Society, for one. In the United States, the competitive college admissions culture could make the thought of benching yourself for a year seem unthinkable. You’ll be a year behind your peers. Or, you may lose your interest in ever going back to school.