#062 Gap Year: Is it a better freshmen start?

Show Notes


Is the gap year for your teen? While only about 1% of American high school students currently take a gap year, the wildly popular custom in Europe is on the rise in the United States. Gap years can help your teen learn about the world, and different types of people, gain confidence and mature a little bit before they step onto a college campus. 


March is the perfect time to talk about the gap year option, even if your teen is younger and isn’t gearing up for their freshman year of college quite yet. There are many reasons a graduating high school senior might opt for a gap year – a break from formal education and disappointment in their college acceptances are just two of the possible reasons. 

A gap year is when a high school senior who intends to enroll in college decides to take a year off. About 20% of European students do this, compared to about 1.2% of American students. Students in the U.S. should consider this as an option because it can have great outcomes. While you might be concerned that a gap year would lead to your teen not making it to college, research shows about 90% of students who do take a gap year end up heading to college. The other 10% may discover that college isn’t the best path for them. 

One university, Middlebury College, is a big supporter of the gap year, and they suggest your teen apply to colleges in their senior year of high school, and if they decide to take a gap year, they can defer for a year. Some 89% of colleges and universities in the U.S. have a deferment policy. Double-check that the colleges they’re applying to will allow this – there are some exceptions for those on waitlists. 

The key to a successful gap year is to ensure the pause in your teen’s education is intentional. The Gap Year Association conducted a survey of students who took a gap year, and their most valuable experiences included learning how to interact with people from different backgrounds, people from other countries, and people different from themselves. Your teen can gain confidence and maturity from this character-building experience. 


  • How a gap year works and when students apply to college
  • The positive outcomes for students who take a gap year
  • Strategies to design a productive and positive experience 
  • Colleges that are embracing and promoting gap year experiences
  • How gap year experiences compare to study abroad experiences

Listen on…the Flourish Site, Spotify, Apple, Google, Amazon Music, Stitcher, or your favorite platform. 

“College & Career Clarity with Lisa is so helpful!”  ← Is that you? If so, please consider rating and reviewing my show so I can resource more families and eliminate overwhelm. Thank you!!

Links mentioned in this episode

Launch College & Career Clarity Course

Launch College and Career Clarity Facebook Community

Episode #013 The Many Advantages of a Gap Year


[00:00] Introduction

[02:02] What is a Gap Year?

[03:01] Gap Year Concerns

[04:48] When do you figure out that you want to do a gap year?

[08:44] What are the benefits of a gap year?

[10:43] How to design an intentional gap year

[14:01] How a gap year can be life-changing

[17:38] Four outcomes to think about 

[20:23] Conclusion

Access the episode transcript here.