What you need to know about programs for gap year students

Taking a gap year is more common than you think. In fact, Ivy League schools like Harvard and Princeton frequently allow students to postpone their first year to take a gap year. If you’re considering programs for gap year students, there are many opportunities out there for you to consider.

But before you run off on an international trip, here are some things you should know about gap year programs.

It doesn’t mean you’ll lose out on going to college

Most schools allow students to defer their enrollment for a year if they plan to take a gap year. Harvard allows up to 70 students, while Dartmouth and Georgetown cap out around 30 per year. 

Postponing simply means they’ll hold your spot for you until the next fall. Then, you’ll have to decide if you’re ready to go back to school or not. 

There are so many choices

Maybe you know what you want to major in, and maybe you don’t — a gap year can help you figure that out. 

Gap year opportunities are aplenty and might even inspire you to pursue a different major entirely. You can do everything from outdoor training to language immersion and travel programs. A little bit of research can help you discover the spark needed to get your career started. 

Not accepted yet? You could be

If you didn’t get into your dream school Senior year, a gap year program could change everything. If you opt to do something impressive like getting published or invent something, it could amplify your resume when it comes time to apply again. 

So, if you have big plans to get something accomplished, keep that Ivy league school in mind. They just might want you after you’ve done so. 

Don’t worry about losing focus

Most students who take a gap year return more focused and ready to hit the books. After having real-world experiences, you tend to mature faster, which prepares you for the shift in lifestyle between high school and college. 

But don’t forget to prep

A gap year isn’t something you can decide to do at the last minute. Start planning early. There are so many programs and opportunities that you’ll need to research, not to mention saving money to pay for the year. Federal financial aid typically doesn’t cover gap year programs or expenses — so you’ll need to develop a financial plan.

Start early and get a budget in place. Once you know what to expect, you’ll have more than enough time to get your ducks in a row.