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Articles / Applying to College / Gap Year in France then Community College?

Nov. 29, 2016

Gap Year in France then Community College?

Question: Hi, I am a current high school student in California. I studied French language and culture in France over this past summer with a home-stay program and I loved the experience. I am considering applying to a summer gap year program for current high school students to study in a French high school with a host family, something I believe I would greatly benefit from as an ardent student of French. My high school counselor supports me in this regard, but unlike most other students from my school who chose gap year study abroad programs, I do not have deferred acceptance to a university. Due to some disappointing grades during junior year and not having realized I should have replaced those grades in summer school, I can only see community college as the next step towards a bachelor's degree. I'd like to know: should I pursue acceptance into the study abroad program for next year and then return for two years at a community college with the intentions of transferring to a university (likely the University of California)? Thanks in advance.

“The Dean" can't tell if your study-abroad program would be for just next summer or for the entire school year, but it sounds like you mean the latter. Spending a gap year in France sounds like a great idea for you, as long as it's financially feasible for your family.

However, even if your grades don't make you eligible for a UC school once you return, you don't necessarily have to head to a community college. While community college can be a great way to get a low-cost education while bolstering a mediocre transcript, it is not the ONLY option for most students, even those who compiled a so-so record in high school.

Since it's late in the game for seniors to start researching colleges now, your best bet might be to head to France for the year but spend some time over the summer checking out possible target colleges for your return. Then you can submit your applications next fall or winter while you're in France.

If you're interested in suggestions of colleges that meet your profile and preferences and that would admit you for the fall of 2018, consider a “Stats Evaluation" from my colleague Ann Playe at College Karma. If you order an Eval, which costs $150, Ann will send you a form to complete. Once you've returned it to her, she will assess your admission chances at any colleges that currently interest you and will also recommend colleges that are likely to admit you if you apply next year. For more information on the Stats Eval, go to https://www.collegekarma.com/college_counseling/college_counseling.htm and scroll down until you see “Stats Eval" near the top of the page.

But if cost is a big concern for you, then community college may be the wise route to take. You might also get so good in French that you could consider a university in France or Quebec (which are often cheaper for American students than many US colleges are).

Whatever you decide, bon courage!

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.

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