What Do Colleges Think About Gap Years?

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The top colleges and universities tell us they wish more incoming students would consider a gap year.

Bill Fitzsimmons, Dean of Admissions, Harvard University

“Perhaps the best way of all to get the full benefit of a “time-off” is to postpone entrance to college for a year. For more than four decades, Harvard has recommended this option, indeed proposing it in the letter of admission. Now more than one hundred students defer college until the next year. The results have been uniformly positive.” [“Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation”]

Matt McGann, Assistant Director of Admissions, MIT

“No one ever regrets having taken a gap year, but plenty of people regret not having taken one. The bottom line here is that it is okay to slow down. Life, college, career -- it's not a race.” [“On Taking a Gap Year”]

Colby College Admissions Department

“For many, a gap year is a time to focus, recharge, and learn about themselves before starting their academic journey. So if you’re thinking about a gap year, we want to help. From understanding our deferral policy, to hearing from students who made the most of their gap year, to connecting with programs around the globe, we want you to have every resource possible to inform your choice.”


Rick Shaw, Dean of Admissions, Stanford University

“We find the kids that come back from a year off often are wiser, they’re more mature, and have different perspective than those who might have gone straight to college.”

How to defer college to take a gap year

When should I apply to college?

Most Fellows choose to apply to college during their senior year.

Once you're accepted, almost all colleges have a straightforward process to request a one-year deferral to take a gap year.

If you do not get admitted to the college of your choice, Global Citizen Year will support you in applying to college during your gap year. Past Fellows can attest that a year abroad gives you great perspective on what you want out of college, and will only strengthen your application.

How do I defer my college acceptance?

When it comes to how to defer admission, you can usually find deferral instructions on the college’s admissions website. If you don’t see it on the college admissions page, check this list of University Deferral Policies compiled by the Gap Year Association or call the College Admissions office for more information.

Almost all colleges will be happy to approve your gap year deferral request. You can always contact Global Citizen Year for extra support when applying to college after a gap year.

Do you provide support for applying to colleges?

Yes! Our Director of College Admissions Guidance supports Fellows who choose to apply to colleges during their Global Citizen Year. This service is available to students who are applying to college after a gap year, or students who may have applied during senior year, but have not accepted/deferred anywhere.

Top colleges are partnering with Global Citizen Year

Global Citizen Year works with a growing number of colleges and universities that recognize the value of a transformative gap year and want to have more Global Citizen Year alumni on campus.

Allegheny College LogoAmerican University logo (white)Bowdoin College logoCase Western Reserve logo whiteClaremont McKenna College logo (white)Colby College LogoColorado College logo (white)Denison University logoDickenson College LogoDuke Univeristy Logo (white)Lafayette College LogoMount Holyoke College Logo (white)Quest University LogoSmith College logo whiteTufts University LogoUniversity of Chicago LogoUNC logo (white)University of Notre Dame logo (white)Whitman College logo white

Even more colleges that support gap years

A growing number of colleges are offering their own gap year programs, supporting students with gap year scholarships, or providing resources about gap year options:

You can apply to college after a gap year and still be accepted. Many colleges are supportive of students gaining more life experience after high school.

For more information about gap years and applications, visit our Frequently Asked Questions, or see how you can apply now.

* If you work in higher education, please contact admissions@globalcitizenyear.org to find out more about how your institution can partner with Global Citizen Year

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