Middlebury

What about a Gap Year?

A Special Message from the Dean of Admissions to All Prospective Applicants to Middlebury College

You are likely in the throes of all of the anxiety that surrounds the college admissions process in this country, and the last thing on your mind may be the prospect of taking any time off between high school and college. But could this also be the ideal time for you to step back and begin thinking about doing something that may help remind you of what your education should really be all about?

The convention in this country is that after we graduate from high school in June, we head off to college in September; that’s likely what you have in mind as well. However, as earning admission to a top college has more and more become an end in itself, and not just a means to an end, we can easily lose sight of the primary goal of our education: to discover what it is we truly care about and want to pursue further, and thereby come as close as possible to realizing our own potential.

As you may know, Middlebury has long been at the forefront in endorsing the concept of taking time off between high school and college through our February admissions program. The students who enroll here in February typically bring more to their college experience and, as a result, derive more from it. They also hold a disproportionately high number of leadership positions on campus and, on average, perform better academically.

Every year some students who are admitted for September choose to defer their enrollment for an entire year and step off the academic treadmill. Many benefit greatly from the opportunity to travel, work, or pursue other interests, and all of those options can help contribute to an even more enriching college experience, much as happens for our “Febs.”

If you ultimately decide to defer your matriculation in college, it probably still makes sense for you to go through the college admissions process while you are in high school.  Once you know where you have been admitted and where you would like to enroll, you can consider the many gap year options that are available to you.  Then, if you decide to ask to defer your enrollment, most colleges will ask you to send them your deposit and request the deferral, explaining what your plans are for your time off. (At Middlebury, we ask admitted students to inform us of their plan to defer no later than June 1 for purposes of enrollment management.)  Normally colleges will ask only that you not enroll in a degree-granting program at another institution, and that you not apply to other colleges during your time off. You will usually need to submit financial aid forms again for the following year, but unless your family’s financial circumstances change significantly in the meantime, it is likely that your financial aid package will be similar to what was originally offered.

This website is designed to inform you about some of the gap year options that are available to you, many of which have been attended by Middlebury students in the past.  But this list should by no means be considered comprehensive, since there are many other excellent gap year programs that are not included in this list.  This list of programs should therefore not be construed as those specifically endorsed by Middlebury College.

Best wishes, and good luck with all of the decisions that lie ahead.

Greg Buckles
Dean of Admissions