Considering a Gap Year before College

What is a Gap Year?

A Gap Year is when a student chooses to wait a period of time (usually six months to a year) after graduating from high school and before starting college.

What do I do during a Gap Year?

Gap Year programs can involve a variety of activities: credit or non-credit study, community service, travel, work internships, or a combination thereof. There are also several programs available abroad. You can use your time to explore an interest, perform community service, live independently, and develop specific skills. The possibilities are nearly endless depending on what type of program you choose.

What Reasons are there for considering a Gap Year?

  • You want to work in a particular area of interest to see if you really like it.
  • You want to learn more about yourself and pursue new interests.
  • You want to want to save money and have some life experience so you will be ready to take full advantage of your college experience.
  • You have pushed yourself so hard through high school that you are “burnt out” and you need a break after the admissions process.
  • You want to head to college with a clearer idea of your path of study.
  • You are excited about the wealth of opportunities that a Gap Year offers You want an opportunity to live independently, away from family and friends.

What are my Gap year Options?

There are many structured Gap Year programs and some programs you can structure yourself. Most require a financial obligation, so many students may need to work first to raise the funds necessary to travel or participate in a particular program. Wootton’s College Career Center has detailed information regarding different programs and opportunities. Discuss financial expectations with your parents.

Should I still apply to college during my Senior Year?

Even if you are committed to doing a Gap Year after high school, it is important to still complete the college application process if you have some particular colleges in mind. It is much easier to apply to college while you are in high school and have easy access to resources such as your School Counselor, teachers (for recommendation letters), and the CIC. Many colleges now allow you to defer for a year with a well-planned Gap Year; however, it is important to check with each of your college choices to see if they accept deferrals. 

Resources on Gap Year Programs


  • Taking Time Off by Colin Hall & Ron Liebe - 1996, Noonday Press
  • The Gap Year by Charlotte Hindle, Joe Bindloss - 2005, The Lonely Planet
  • Taking a Gap Year by Susan Griffith - 2003, Globe Pequot Press
  • Your Gap Year: Everything You Need to Know to Make Your Year Out the Adventure of a Lifetime by Susan Griffith - 2008, Globe Pequot Press
  • The Gap-Year Advantage: Helping Your Child Benefit from Time Off Before or During College (Paperback) by Karl Haigler, Rae Nelson


Programs: (additional information is also available in Wootton’s College Career Center)

Every year in February, Wootton hosts a Gap Year Fair. Stay tuned for more details!