Last week I talked about what students might want to consider a gap year. But how does a gap year work?
There are two possible approaches to a gap year and the approach you use depends in part on why you are taking the gap year. The first option is to apply to a college as if you planned on attending in the fall. Once accepted you can contact the college you have chosen and ask to take a gap year. Almost all colleges will agree to a student taking a year off as long as the student plans on using the time productively. This is the best approach for those students who know what they want from a college but just need a break.
Occasionally, students who take this type of gap year have a change of heart on what they want from a college and decide during the gap year that the college they have chosen is no longer the best option. If this should happen, you are free to apply to another college and if accepted attend the new college. The only loss would be of any deposits you might have made to the first college.
The second approach to a gap year is to take a year off and not worry about applying to college in the senior year. With this approach you would have an additional year to get your SAT or ACT testing done, and would have more time to explore your college options.
This second approach is best for students who need additional time to figure out what they want from a college. This is also the best approach for those students who wait until late senior year to start thinking about college. As recently as yesterday I spoke with the parent of a senior just starting to think about college. Can you find a college at this late date? Yes. Will you have the time to find the best choice for you? Unlikely.
Next week I will talk about what you might want to do during a gap year.