More FAQ

Is a Gap Year Safe?

We appreciate your concerns about safety and managing risks, and we share them for all individuals embarking on a gap year. Much of the value of what Interim provides is the certainty that options we recommend have been carefully vetted. We have either visited programs or received feedback from Interim students who have attended them. We let you know if we have not visited or had another Interim student attend a new program you might be considering. Clearly, not all areas of the world or activities are as safe as others and we discuss potential risks for each experience that you consider. It helps that almost all programs we recommend provide individuals with structure and support and local contacts in place.

Will I Go to College if I Take a Gap Year?

Yes! It is rare that a gap year student does not continue on to college. Of our Interim students who intended to go to college after their gap year, virtually all have done so. And quite a few who initially doubted college after uninspiring high school experiences, caught fire during their gap year and were eager to continue their formal education. Gap year students are more inspired to learn for its own sake rather than head to college merely because it is the next step, and new research is showing that they are academically outperforming their college peers.

What Do Colleges Think of the Gap Year?

Most colleges today are supportive of the gap year and will offer students a deferred admission. They generally want to know the student has a plan in place and is doing something valuable with the time. Now that the gap year in the U.S. has become more established, studies are showing that students who engage in a year of creative, structured experiences will be more mature, motivated, and productive, in short, a far more appealing student overall.

In their article, "Time Out or Burn Out for the Next Generation", the admissions staff at Harvard University strongly endorses the gap year. Princeton University has created the Bridge Year for up to 10% of incoming freshmen. Colorado College would like to see 20% of its freshman class have taken a gap year.

We have worked with many students who told us that their gap year experiences helped them get into colleges that otherwise might not have accepted them. Our Facts & Figures page outlines more compelling data about the transition to college after a gap year.

Is a Gap Year for Me?

A gap year is for anyone seeking productive change and direction in his or her life. Successful gap years can be had by all who are motivated and who participate wholeheartedly. We work with a range of individuals, from the highly self-directed and academically focused to those thoroughly tired of, or unsuccessful in, the traditional academic or professional process. If you have a genuine interest in exploring new ways of learning, deepening your sense of self, and gaining further insight into the next chapter of your life, a gap year is the right choice for you.

Will I Fall Behind My High School Class?

You may be a chronological year behind your high school peers but you will probably surpass them during your gap year in terms of being able to handle yourself independently in the world and the greater maturity of your choices while in college. And, you may well enjoy yourself far more than they as you explore areas of interest outside the traditional classroom environment. Statistics also indicate that over half of the students who begin college straight out of high school take more than four years to finish, so you will not be as out-of-step with your high school class as you might assume.

Will I Be Too Old As a Freshman in College After Taking a Gap Year?

Although this is a common concern for students, the reality is that you are not as age-bound in college as in high school. And college invariably offers a range of older students as well as many more fellow gap year students. However, there is no doubt that after taking a gap year you are likely to be more mature than most freshmen landing in college right out of high school and home. Interim alumni have commented on the adjustment from gap year to college yet no one has ever said they wished they had not taken a gap year as a result. The benefits far outweigh potential challenges of reentry.

Will A Gap Year Add to the High Cost of College?

Given the cost of college and the economic concerns that many families are facing, the answer to this question can be critical to considering a gap year. The answer, surprisingly, is that a gap year can actually reduce the overall cost of education and help save money on college. We can't blame you if your first response to this assertion is doubt. After all, the gap year adds a year to the educational time frame; however, the facts as reported by CNN Money in 2004 and the US government operated National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) are that only 37% of entering freshmen graduate within 4 years and the average student takes more than 5 years to complete college. Why? Because students, who are often unsure of the academic direction they wish to take, frequently change majors, sometimes more than once, and often change schools. Either of these occurrences adds costs and time to a student's college education. Possibly as important is the troubling statistic from a NCES report on 2012 graduates which states: "59 percent of first-time, full-time students who began seeking a bachelor’s degree at a 4-year institution in fall 2006 completed the degree at that institution within 6 years." US News & World Report lists the schools with the highest graduation rates in this report. You might be surprised to find that Harvard's 4-year graduation rate was 88%, MIT's is 83%, Stanford's is 80%, NYU's is 78%, and Boston University's is 76%. Most are even less.

How much does the extra time in college cost? This NY Times article quotes the College Board when placing a dollar value on the costs of extra time to degree completion, "For an out-of-state student at a public four-year university, the extra cost of taking six years to complete an undergraduate degree averages more than $58,000" and "even five years for an in-state student costs an extra $18,000." So, if you're budgeting for 4 years of college, be prepared, there's a very good chance that you will incur significant costs for one or more extra years.

A gap year, which can be made less expensive than even the lowest-priced colleges, can save money by helping the student focus, define what they want from college, and obtain their degree in four years (and sometimes less). Added maturity helps. Most gap-year students heading to college are far less likely to waste precious time with excessive partying or an uncertain attitude about what to study. In 2014, Mark Hatch, Vice President of Enrollment at Colorado College, publicly asserted that their gap year students took less time to graduate than non-gap year peers.

What Do Employers Think of a Gap Year?

Many employers, both here and abroad, believe that a graduate who has taken a gap year brings a level of maturity to the work place that far surpasses those who have never taken time to explore their interests and the world. Furthermore, a constructive and well-structured gap year can help graduates garner real-world skills not often acquired in school, e.g. problem solving or decision making. These skills are critical in the workplace. Many companies in Europe, where the gap year has been around much longer, agree that graduates with these skills are more likely to succeed.

Why Use a Gap Year Counselor?

The first and foremost reason for using a gap year counselor is to help you avoid the potholes and speed bumps on the road to a great gap year. An experienced gap year counselor listens to your interests, needs, and concerns and steers you in the best direction to achieve your goals within your available resources. You can read more about the benefits of working with a gap year counselor in one of our blog posts in our Media section.

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