ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled
Saved to My Favorites. View My Favorites
Articles / Applying to College / Advice for Applications After Gap Year

Advice for Applications After Gap Year

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | May 13, 2014

Question: I’m a senior in high school about to graduate. I got into almost every school I applied to but there weren’t any that really jumped out at me and in all the stress of indecision I decided to go to community college. I recently realized this isn’t for me and I want to go to a 4 year. I already rejected my acceptances and the decision date has passed. I’m considering just taking a gap year and getting right back into college after working during the year. Would I just reapply for the next year with my high school records? Also what are the chances of getting accepted after taking a gap year since it’s not like I’m deferring the acceptance I already have?

It sounds like you’re making some wise choices. If you’re not excited about any of the colleges that admitted you, it makes sense to take time off from school and consider other options.

When you are ready to apply to colleges, you would do so very much the same way you did the last time around … using your high school GPA, test scores, recommendations, etc.

However, you should definitely explain why you took the gap year and what you did during your months away from the classroom. You can use your primary application essay to do this or you can write a supplemental letter or essay, if you prefer.

You may also want to ask someone who met you during your gap year (e.g., an employer) to write an extra recommendation for you. In addition, you can retake standardized tests if you wish, but it definitely isn’t required.

Although most gap-year activities–unless they’re extraordinary–won’t do much to help an applicant to get into a college that he or she wasn’t qualified to attend straight from high school, admission officials do appreciate the fact that “gappers” are often more focused and mature than students who enroll right after 12th grade. So your gap year mighthelp to give you at least a tiny boost when you apply to new colleges next fall.

However, if you think that you MAY want to start college in September after all, you can call the colleges that already admitted you to see if any of them still have a space for you. Although the reply deadline has passed, if these colleges are accepting any wait-listed applicants this month, they might consider giving a spot to you as well. Similarly, if during your gap year you realize that you want to attend one of the schools that already accepted you, you should contact the admission office there to see what your next steps should be. You may not have to submit a whole new application. Some colleges may tell you that just an update will be fine. Your acceptance at these places won’t be guaranteed, but your odds should be good.

Good luck, whatever you decide.


Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

More on Applying to College

See all
typing at computer- karolina-grabowska-6958506-resized

Authentic Voice in College Essays

That’s why you want to use your authentic voice when writing any college essay.

So what’s the problem? A student has shared an ess…


College Interview Prep Tips: Brainstorm, Research, Analyze, Generalize

I recently visited Washington University in Saint Louis and was lucky enough to set up an interview. By speaking with peers of mi…

campus gates

Academic Index Scores: Why They Matter and How They're Calculated

Note: Click here for 10 Summer Programs You Can Still Apply For or keep reading to learn more about academic index scores.

8 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

7 Podcasts for Students Going Through the Admissions Process

Podcasts can offer a wealth of information to busy students, particularly when it comes to the college admissions process. We…


Avoid College Application Regrets: Tips For Getting It Right the First Time

Decision Day occurs each year on May 1st and is the deadline for students to inform the college of their choice of their intent t…

Get a student loan that goes beyond tuition.

Ascent offers cosigned and non-cosigned student loans with exclusive benefits that set students up for success.

Explore Now!
Find Your Scholarship

Want to find money for school that doesn’t need to be paid back? Access insights and advice on how to search and apply for scholarships!

Search for Scholarship