College Acceptances, Waitlists, Deferrals, Gap Years

Next Step Advice on Your High School Senior’s Next Step

Notifications: On the one hand, it’s what students have been waiting for since they pressed SEND on their college applications and on the other hand, it’s also what they’ve been dreading since they hit SEND on their applications. There’s always a tiny love-hate struggle when presented with choice; we want to have options and then, when we have too many, we want fewer or for someone else to make a decision for us. If your student is one of those “spoiled for choice” seniors who’ve received a few college acceptances, here’re some ideas to mull:

Torn Between City and Country
Or large and small, college and university, close to home and far from home. I have a current student who was deferred from their big research Midwestern ED choice. Over the last few weeks, he’s been offered spots at smaller liberal arts colleges closer to his east coast home as well as an RD acceptance to that Midwestern ED deferral. Suddenly, he’s confronted with not only academic considerations, but also geographical ones. While he was convinced he wanted the breadth of a larger school, he did throw in some applications at these other schools because… why not? Now, he’s wondering if there isn’t more depth, or at least more intimacy, at one of these smaller institutions. And he can visit his parents in a few hours if he wants. I suggested revisiting. I’ve had more than one student return to a campus and discover that what they “loved” was now hard to locate – or rekindle! One student even told me that he wasn’t sure that the school that he “loved” was the one he thought it was when applying ED. Did he make a mistake? Did his memory of one campus get cross-wired with that of another? Did he envision a school that never really existed? Maybe all of the above and none of the above. The student deliberating between the Midwestern research university and east coast liberal arts school did revisit and chose the smaller college closer to home. It’s what made sense to him NOW. He’s a different person, perhaps, than he was almost a year ago when he did his college touring. He’s older, his interests have changed and he’s better able to imagine a community in which he can flourish over the next four years.

Sweat It Out
I’ve had students who, although they were offered admission to competitive schools that fit their criteria, decide to hold out for their preferred choice that Waitlisted them. Waiting out the Wait List can feel like Waiting for Godot; will the answer ever come? One student heard from their beloved school at the end of May, another in August, after each had put down a deposit at another institution. Compared to private high schools, a college deposit is a pittance; schools realize that students often accept two or three offers and make their final decision during the summer. My advice is – If you’re not in love with a school, or in serious like, sweat out the summer with the Waitlist Endurance Test! There’s a good chance you could win.

Mind The Gap
I have one student who’s a sophomore at a competitive small liberal arts school tell me he’s taking a Gap Semester. Yes, he’s going abroad, but no, he’s not going to enroll in any institution. He has enough credits to graduate with his class so he will simply withdraw from his current college for a semester and travel. He’ll return second semester Junior Year, refreshed and ready to focus on a Capstone Project. This is not uncommon. A Gap Year or Gap Semester can come at any time. Many companies help students shape their time off by curating experiences, whether these are trips, volunteer opportunities or study programs. The most popular “gap” is in between high school and college for either a semester – January Freshman – or a year prior to matriculation. The reason to take a Gap Year varies from student to student, but often it’s because a student is young for their grade or simply desirous of a break in between the academic rigor of high school and that of college.

These are just a few of the scenarios and options available for seniors as they receive their college notifications. Give me a holler at 917-863-2424 or drop me a line at to talk about your student’s particular choices.