Gap Year & Deferral Years

Gap Year & Deferral Years

A gap year (which could be just a semester) is an opportunity for more time for students to self-reflect, explore different opportunities, take a break from the routines of school, solidify choices they might be interested in, travel, take time away for family or personal reasons.

It is important to note that time off generally does NOT improve chance of admission to any particular school, but it is often a good way to explore interests and allow for more time to self-reflect. In the article, a dean of admissions notes that, "Most of the gap years are designated after admissions ... I don’t want students to take a year off before applying because they want to enhance their chances of getting in. If that’s the purpose of the year off, that’s unfortunate. Because I’d rather have them taking a year off because it’s something they truly in their heart feel they want to do.”

According to the Center for Interim Programs:

  • Gap year students overwhelmingly report being satisfied with their jobs which related to their approach to working with people and careers.
  • The highest three rated outcomes of gap years are:
    • Gaining a better sense of who I am and what is important to me
    • A better understanding of other countries, people, cultures, and ways of living
    • Additional skills and knowledge that contributed to my career or academic major
  • 90% of students who took a gap year returned to college within a year
  • 60% of gap year students said the experience either “set me on my current career path/academic major” or “confirmed my choice of career/academic major”

Additional Information and Resources

Center for Interim Programs

Where there be dragons.

Gap Year Fairs offer students and families the opportunity to meet representatives from various gap year programs.

Databases such as,, can be a good place to start if you’re hoping to work on a volunteer or for-pay basis during your gap year.