I want to take a gap year. How does it work?

Gap year feature photo

So you’ve decided to take a gap year before heading to college. You’ve made a great choice! More and more students are opting to take a gap year, and it’s no wonder why. It gives you a chance to explore career interests, volunteer, see the world, or simply recharge from high school.

Taking a gap year will not affect a smooth transition to CSU. However, before your gap year starts it’s important to make a college application plan. We offer a few options for future Rams who have a gap year in mind, and as an Admissions Counselor, I have some advice.

When to apply to CSU

If you plan to take a gap year, you should either apply before the year begins or during it. In my experience, applying before is the best option.

Before the gap year begins

With this option, you’ll apply to CSU before your gap year begins, then update your entry term once accepted. There are a few reasons I recommend this approach:

  1. It’s easier to get application materials while you’re a current high school student.
  2. It will keep you on track to attend college.
    • Applying now will keep you on top of deadlines during the gap year so you don’t miss out on opportunities like scholarships and financial aid, housing, and other requirements.

If you apply before your gap year and then attend another institution during that time, you will no longer be considered a freshman.

You will need to re-apply as a transfer student.

During the gap year

I don’t recommend this approach, but it is do-able if you’re organized and thoughtful about it. There are few important things to keep in mind if you plan to apply during a gap year:

  1. Review our application checklist and be aware of deadlines that will occur during your gap year. You don’t want to miss out on important admissions or financial aid dates.
  2. Get the required materials for an application now, while you’re still in high school. After graduation, it can be difficult to obtain a letter of recommendation and transcripts for your application. It’s helpful to have those materials on hand now.
  3. Contact your Admissions Counselor for guidance. We’re here to assist you throughout the admissions process, so use us as a resource.

What to expect from the application process

If you apply before the gap year begins:

  • You will need to apply to CSU by February 1st for full consideration.
  • If selected for admission, you may defer your enrollment (take a gap year) for either one semester or a full year.
  • Contact your Admissions Counselor. Inform them that you are intending to defer enrollment and discuss when you’ll need to sign up for housing and orientation during your gap year.

If you apply during the gap year:

  • Apply to CSU for the intended term of entry — the term after your gap year ends.
    • For example, if you intend to start at CSU in the fall of 2019, follow the admissions deadlines for that term.
  • As I previously stated, consider getting some parts of your application ready before your gap year begins.

And most importantly…

If you need help, reach out. Our goal in Admissions is to make sure you succeed at CSU, so don’t hesitate to let us know of questions or concerns. Taking a gap year is a great decision, and we’ll help to ensure that you have a smooth transition to college.

Vincent Caricato, CSU Admissions
Author: Vinny Caricato
A Colorado State Admissions Counselor and ultimate Ram fan, Vinny is a first-generation college graduate and alum of Colorado State. He specializes in financial aid and scholarships, and spends his time helping students navigate how to make CSU a financial fit.