April 28, 2020
“The Dean" is annoyed by countless admission practices and one of them is this policy you've just described. It's when a college accepts a deposit from a gap-year student and then also extracts a promise that the student will not apply elsewhere during the year off. Many admission officials are quick to sing the praises of the gap-year concept, noting that their applicants who spend time away from school often return more mature and focused than the typical freshman. So can't these folks realize that the broadening qualities of the gap-year experience may lead teenagers to new interests and thus to new campuses? The 18-year-old who wanted a small liberal arts college near home may find that, as a 19-year-old who's sheared sheep in Australia or taught toddlers in Chicago, those priorities … and plans … have dramatically changed.
Two colleges that blipped on my radar screen during recent gap-year discussions, Middlebury and Yale, both demand a signed commitment from prospective gappers. The majority of colleges, however, do not. And, luckily for you, neither BC nor Northeastern will require you to pledge any oath of loyalty. You will, however, need to pay an enrollment deposit ($500-$600) and expect to lose it if you eventually matriculate elsewhere.
I wish you well in your quest to find an alma mater that excites you. However, you may discover that, after a year outside of the classroom, you'll be eager to return … perhaps even to one of the places that has already welcomed you.