Admissions impact of gap years on class of 2021

Did anyone see the article in the Boston Globe this morning stating 20 percent of incoming freshman at Harvard took gap years? I completely understand why students are taking gap years but I feel for the kids applying next year.

definitely less spots available at more selective schools.

That would mean about 300 students. I cannot bring myself to care about 300 students who won’t be able to attend Harvard. That is, what, 0.01% of all graduating high school students?

As for most other colleges with low acceptance rates? Many will accept a larger number of students next year, to offset losses in tuition revenue from this year, which will likely reduce the impact of gap year students, and there is also a strong likelihood that more students will attend a closer and cheaper college, which will usually be a public college.

These will, however, provide at least a bit of relief for colleges by contributing to effects of yield - between gap year students and ED students, colleges can have up to 65% of their class of 2025 enrolled even before they decide on RD acceptances.

However, why do people here care so much about the tiny number of students who apply to the colleges with really low acceptance rates. These are < 2% or so of all non-profit colleges, they also are attended by 2% of all undergraduates, at very most (or < 1.5% of all high school graduates).

For the vast majority of colleges in the USA, enrollment this year is no different than last year, and returning gap year students will easily be absorbed.

CC has so much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over the “plight” of a tiny number students who think that their lives are over because they cannot attend a Very Most Prestigious College, and may have to attend a college which is (oh woe is them!) “only” ranked # 20 by USNews.

Sorry, the “plight” of students whose chances of being rejected by a Very Most Prestigious College have increased from 95.5% to 96.5%.

Compared to the issues of colleges which will not be able to financially support lower income students or public colleges and small rural colleges which may have to close, meaning that lower income students may have even fewer opportunities to even attend a college, the “problems” of a student who will be “forced” to attend a state flagship or a “T-50” instead of a “T-20” is the epitome of First World Problems.


Thanks for your reply. I guess I was less concerned about Harvard per se but wondering how widespread this may be at other college and the impact on students applying next year.

To be more accurate. “for the colleges which are attended by the vast majority of graduating HS students”.

Also, if there is a drop in enrollment, it won’t be because these students are taking a gap year. It will be because they are attending a cheaper college, closer to home.

These are not student who will compete with the next year’s HS graduates.

Kids from most income classes cannot afford to take a year off and not work for a salary. Since job availability is far lower, these students will go to college, albeit a cheaper college than they would normally have done.

Also, “no difference” also means that colleges which were seeing an annual decline in enrollment will see a similar decline in enrollment this year.

Again, “gap year” falls within the same category as “T-20” - it is something that is mostly part of the life style of the affluent.

So only colleges like Harvard, with 1/2 of their students from the top 10%m and 70% from the top 20% would ever worry about the effects of 20% who are taking a gap year.