April 29, 2022

Seeking College-Admissions Edge, More Students Take Gap Year

This Wall Street Journal article explains what's happening -- see some article excerpts below:

Rising rejections at highly selective colleges and hopes for better luck in a year are pushing more seniors to take a yearlong pause after high school. 

For the 2020-21 academic year, 130,000 students took gap years, according to the nonprofit Gap Year Association, with many of these early-pandemic gap-year students deferring enrollment to wait for the full college experience. That is up from between 40,000 and 60,000 students before the pandemic.

The following excerpt features Madison Kim who worked with Center for Interim Programs' president, Holly Bull. Madison took a gap year and reapplied to college halfway through her year. She was accepted into Cornell University after being on the wait list the first time around.

For Madison Kim, who says she received a score of 1510 on her SATs and played club soccer and lacrosse, last year’s admission season didn’t go the way she hoped. She was rejected from six schools, including her top choice, Yale University, and wait-listed at four others. She received two acceptances, but wasn’t enthusiastic about either, she says.

“I was pretty surprised and a little bit naive,” says Ms. Kim, 18, who lives with her family in California’s Napa Valley.

She worked with a gap-year counselor at the Center for Interim Programs, a consulting firm that helps students design independent gap years, and developed a plan. She would complete a marine-studies program over the summer and an off-the-grid hiking program in the fall while reapplying to colleges with a new major in mind: environmental science. 

“I ended up feeling a lot more like that my essay reflected my actual interest, whereas the first essay I wrote last year was maybe a little bit me trying to write what I thought they wanted to hear,” says Ms. Kim, who will enroll at Cornell University this fall. The school had wait-listed her in 2021.

What we have witnessed here at the Center for Interim Programs (after 42 years of doing nothing but gap year counseling with over 8,600 students) is that taking a gap year does not guarantee admission into college but it can't hurt and will only help, provided one puts thought and care into planning a year that truly matches core interests.

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