When to Consider a Gap Year

On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, host Beth Heaton covered how gap years might play into your college application strategy, as well as tackling a number of our listeners’ questions.

Gap Years: An Answer to Being Denied?

Mary Sue Youn joined Beth to address whether or not pursuing a gap year could be a good way to improve your chances at your top choice school if you were initially denied. While they explain why, in general, this game plan isn’t the best of ideas, they go on to discuss some of the components to consider and what options students have, including how to navigate the complications of applying to colleges from a gap year.

Listener Questions

After the break, Beth was joined by Kathy Ruby to tackle listener’s college finance and admissions questions.

  • Finance
    • Can you negotiate a financial aid offer? If so, any tips for how to approach the negotiation?
    • I’ve heard that parents who are wealthy enough to not qualify for need-based aid, but not so wealthy as to avoid feeling the pain of college expense, are more often now shunning elite (expensive) colleges in favor of good quality schools that offer honors programs and/or merit aid. Are you seeing any trends here?
    • How can I financially cover the Expected Family Contribution that the FAFSA showed me after I completed it?
    • What colleges provide merit aid (because I know my family won’t qualify for need-based aid)?
    • I filed my FAFSA right away on October 1st. Can I submit a correction to reduce the amount of assets I reported?
  • Admissions:
    • I’ve heard that you need to load your resume with extracurricular activities and volunteer and service hours starting your freshman year to be considered over other applicants; is this true?
    • Is a recommendation from a 10th grade teacher OK to submit?
    • I’ve heard you should apply to at least 10 schools at minimum even if you have no interest in attending them.  True?
    • Do your chances of admission improve if you apply as undeclared, rather than declare a competitively sought major?
    • If colleges recalculate GPAs anyway and only use an unweighted GPA, why should I bother to take honors classes? (Please listen to hear Beth unpack the number of false assumptions in this question!)

Want one of your questions answered on air? Submit them here.  And tune in to our next episode to learn what trends we’ve been seeing in early round acceptances, learn about financial aid award letters, and make some New Year’s resolutions about the college admissions process.


Written by Tova Tolman
Tova Tolman is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions consultants. Prior to joining College Coach, Tova worked in admissions at Fordham University, Montclair State University, and Barnard College. Visit our website to learn more about Tova Tolman.