Gap Year

Why and How to Defer College Acceptance for a Gap Year

Learn the benefits of deferring college admissions to take a gap year and how you can make it happen!

A man stands in the sun by a building.

You’ve worked hard throughout high school: gotten good grades, passed plenty of challenging classes, and participated in extracurricular activities. Now, it's all finally paid off in the form of an acceptance letter from the college or university of your choice.

However, maybe you’re feeling hesitant to start a whole new round of studies. Some time off might sound like a healthy and necessary change. Why not defer admission to travel the world or take time for self-growth?

If this idea sounds enticing, keep reading to learn why we think you should consider deferring college admission for a year and dedicate time to experiential learning through a gap year.

What is deferred admission?

Deferred admission is an option available to prospective students who have applied to university and been accepted. It’s a way to defer, or push back, your entry to college. For example, if you’re admitted to the fall semester, you can defer your admission to the following fall. Deferral is usually for a year or less.

Many students defer so they can take a break from studies after high school. They spend their time doing a variety of things, including:

  • Working and saving some money
  • Focusing on their physical and mental health
  • Investing in a hobby like art or sports
  • Volunteering for a cause they believe in
  • Traveling the world

What do all of these have in common? You can do one or all of them during your gap year!

Benefits of deferring college admission for a gap year

A woman faces away from the camera on a busy road.

While a gap year is a broad and entirely unique experience, there are commonly gained benefits from dedicating time to self-growth and travel.

According to the Gap Year Association’s extensive research, the benefits of taking a gap year include:

  • Increased self-confidence, maturity, and independence
  • Better intercultural communication
  • Increased college readiness and motivation
  • Clearer ideas of career goals and/or field of study

Who wouldn’t want to walk into their freshman classroom armed with a skillset like this?

Things to consider before deferring admission for a gap year

Before deciding to defer your admission to college, you’ll want to ask yourself the following questions:

If you feel confident about your answers and your overall vision, read on to learn about how to defer your college acceptance.

Read more: Should You Take a Gap Year After High School? Pros & Cons

Steps to defer college acceptance

The good news is that deferring your college admission for a year has never been easier or more accepted. Universities and colleges recognize that gap years can result in more mature, dedicated students who bring a wealth of diverse experiences to campus. In fact, even Harvard University’s acceptance letter suggests that freshmen take some time off before starting college.

Deferring your college acceptance is as simple as these six steps:

  1. Start researching your options. Ask your prospective universities about your ability to defer including what will happen to potential scholarships, grants, and other financial aid. The Gap Year Association is a great place to start to understand various universities’ admissions policies on gap years.
  2. Apply to college. Once you’ve narrowed down your top choices, prepare your application materials and apply. You don’t need to mention your plans for a gap year in your personal statement.
  3. Get accepted and confirm that you will attend. If you are accepted to several schools, be aware that you should only confirm attendance at one of them. Pick the school that best aligns with your goals and budget while also considering any university scholarships offered.
  4. Write your deferral letter. You’ll want to address the how and why. If you’re unsure about what to write, check out tips and examples online. Be mindful of deadlines! Many universities require this request to be submitted between May to July.
  5. Wait for admissions to evaluate your request. Don’t stress! More and more universities are comfortable with (and even encourage!) students taking gap years.
  6. Confirm your deferral. Time to celebrate! If your request is accepted, confirm your deferral and start dreaming about this new adventure to come.

Travel the world on your gap year!

A man stands at the end of a dock with mountains in the background.

Choosing to defer your college acceptance is a big decision and one that you’ll need to reach through proper thought and planning. When you do decide to take the leap though, you’re in for a year of exciting possibilities!

Read more about taking a gap year: