I have received a number of phone calls this month from parents of seniors wondering about finding the right college for their student. I always tell them that a gap year should be seriously considered at this point so late in the admissions season.
For those of you not familiar with a gap year, it is an increasingly popular option for students to take a year off between graduating from high school and starting college. There are several groups of students for whom a gap year makes sense.
Students who had problems early in high school and haven’t lived up to their potential are often good candidates for a gap year. The additional year can be used to take college courses at a local community college where the student can prove that they are capable of handling college level work. This goes a long way to convincing college admissions officers that you are able to handle college work despite a poor high school performance.
On the other end of the scale are those students who have worked incredibly hard during high school and need to take a year off to avoid a burn out. Princeton University made news several years ago when they began encouraging admitted freshman to take a gap year although Princeton calls it a bridge year.
A third group of students for whom a gap year makes sense are those that have not taken the time to determine what they want from a college. These students might be able to find a college at this late stage of the admissions process but they do not have the time to find the best college for their needs. For these students, a gap year makes sense so that they have all of this year to work on finding the best college for them.