Opportunity worth a gap year and deferred admission?

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: Opportunity worth a gap year and deferred admission?
By Digmedia (Digmedia) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 12:09 pm: Edit

OK, OK, I thought I was through with CC and that all was settled. But now I need advice from you guys. My son may have an opportunity that would require his delaying starting college by a year. He says that he wants to try for it. It's a very competitive position, but he has a good shot at it since the number of qualified candidates is somewhat limited to begin with.

If selected as a finalist, he'd have to go in April to a finalists' competition. Only a single person is selected. Training is the entire month of September, then he'd be gone for 4-5 months on an incredible journey/adventure/hardship?/stories-for-a-lifetime real-life expedition.

I re-registered with USNWR so i could get info on which colleges he's applying to accept deferred admission. I was surprised that some schools don't do that, but his choices allow that.

We're encouraging him to apply to this opportunity, but would certainly worry about him while he was gone for so long. But the question: After his adventure (should he be the one to get accepted), he may have an entirely new set of priorities. If you accept a slot in a school and defer that admission for a year, can you change your mind? (Obviously you can, but is this seen as a no-no by schools?)

Also, can he re-start the application process a year later, perhaps applying to new schools? I think that his gap year would explain itself, but do most people who have a gap year have their acceptance ducks in a row before they go?


By Emeraldkity4 (Emeraldkity4) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 12:14 pm: Edit

My daughter applied to same set of schools after her gap year plus one. Previously all public schools and then she added a private reach. I think she was seen as a much more attractive applicant after her gap year than she would have been before, for the reach.

I say if he really wants to do it, go for it. I don't think you have anything to lose.
Now is he a senior now? So he would be having to apply to schools next winter, ( in case he wants to add a school) while he is gone on his adventure.
Im not clear on the timetable but it sounds exciting.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 12:19 pm: Edit

Digi -- I'd say go for it, but the timing does sound problematic. If he wanted to re-apply, wouldn't he have to do it AFTER the year of adventure, thus meaning another year off? I suppose transferring would be an option if he decided he was no longer happy w/school of choice.

By Digmedia (Digmedia) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 01:45 pm: Edit

That's a good point about the timing! I guess he would have to have everything done before he goes off. The idea of a transfer is a good one, especially if his priorities really change a lot.

Do a lot of schools look favorably on a gap year? Especially if that year is spent on a scientific expedition to someplace incredibly remote?

By Momrath (Momrath) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 08:29 pm: Edit

A LOT of colleges look favorably on a well-spent gap year. This is a link to Harvard's comments on the subject. Most of the selectives have similar positions.


I'd highly encourage your son to go for this opportunity. Even without knowing any details your own enthusiasm is infectious.

Why is he anticipating that he may choose a different school after the program than before? Why not just apply to a wider range now?

If he should change his mind and decide not to go his original choice A, his new choice B would have no way to know about it, so it really wouldn't matter what college A thinks.

Is the program decision timed so that the applicants know before they have to make their college acceptance decision mid-April? (Or would that be too easy?)

As far as missing your son during the 4-5 months that he'd be far from home, if he has access to e-mail (with digital camera), telephone you'll be fine. (This from a parent whose child is on the other side of the planet.)

By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 08:50 pm: Edit

Digi: if your S would qualify for merit aid, check whether an agreement to defer admission also would defer merit aid. Some schools don't want to agree to that since they feel that they have granted the merit aid as an inducement for the student to attend that school. In such case they might simply retract the complete offer or cut out one year of the four.

By Songman (Songman) on Monday, September 13, 2004 - 09:33 pm: Edit

DIGMEDIA- You are never through with the CC boards! They always come back sooner or later...:)

By Cheers (Cheers) on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 03:27 am: Edit

Digi; Can you say more about the details of your S's GAP program? My S came back from the nine month GAP and never waivered from his commitment to go to uni. However, he is happy to be on a large diverse campus set in the middle of a thriving metropolis.

By Jamimom (Jamimom) on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 04:15 pm: Edit

My son's best friend was awarded an opportunity to study abroad right after highschool. He deferred college and spent the year in Europe studying at an institute there. Returned fluent in a foreign language and with new goals and outlooks. He applied to some schools and is now going to a different school than the one where he was deferred. He had been accepted to a small college in NE and he felt he wanted something bigger and in the midwest so he is now at an honors program at a state university doing very well. I could not see him in such a school a year ago, nor could his parents. So things can change a lot in a year.

By Digmedia (Digmedia) on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 05:01 pm: Edit

The opportunity is a big-time National Science Foundation funded expedition. The reason that I think it might affect his choice is that what he currently thinks he wants to do is not math or science related. Yet he is taking AP CALC, AP Physics, and has numerous awards and leadership positions in science-related activities. He only missed a single question on the SAT I math portion (brought him down to a 780 - what a curve) and had equally high scores on the math and science portions of the ACT. So in a way, I wish that what he wanted to pursue (making films) would change to something where he could use that considerable math talent. Not that his films don't exhibit talent.... He has gotten a lot of recognition and also already received a scholarship for his film work.

Are there other parents out there whose kids have a particularly strong talent, yet their college/career goals don't take advantage of it? Are you trying to do any nudging back in the "more practical" direction? So far, I'm not, but there is this little voice in the back of my head that keeps slightly nagging me....

By Lamom (Lamom) on Tuesday, September 14, 2004 - 08:35 pm: Edit

Whenever I thought of nudging son to a "practical" major, I reminded myself of the Joy on his face and body I see when son plays his trumpet. So the little voice tells me he will be ok and will find a way to use his other talents. You son is very talented and will find a way to use all his talents.

By Cheers (Cheers) on Saturday, September 18, 2004 - 01:30 am: Edit

Digi; Maybe the National Science expedition is The Nudge--or maybe he will find a way to combine the talent and the interests. He sounds very capable and will probably choose the best course for himself.

I agree with Jamimom. He can set up a deferrel, but if the GAP year re-orders his priorities he might decide to apply to another university altogether--possibly out of the US even. If my S had half a chance he would have decided to go to the UK instead. But he didn't really have the time to re-apply and go through the whole business.

Before he left, H and I encouraged S to choose a univeristy in an interesting urban location. 'Go to a university AND live in an interesting city' was our two bird mantra.

After S returned from GAP year, when many of our friends wondered if university would appeal to him, S was happy to go to the big urban school in the middle of a big city. If anything, the GAP year raised the bar of expectations for him. He wanted the more challenging environment, the least amount of hand-holding.

Hope this helps.

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