Gap Year Advice

My son is a HS senior, class of 2020. He was diagnosed with ADHD midway though high school. (He has the inattentive variety without hyperactivity so not as easy to identify.) I am a little worried about sending him off to college in the fall as I am not confident he will keep up with the work or wake himself up to go to class. He has a summer birthday so is not yet 18 and is on the immature side, both physically and mentally. He has good intentions and is not rebellious or anything, he just has trouble with follow through. He’s smart, but has poor study skills/habits. We are working on these things. I am thinking a gap year will be good for him. His psychologist also recommended we consider it.

He is in the IB program at school and is pursuing the IB diploma. It’s a challenging curriculum and he has stuck with it so far. We’ll know this summer if he actually earns the diploma. His class rank is currently top 28%.

He originally took his SAT and ACT without accommodations and did fine. In fall of senior year he decided to try again with extended time. His SAT score went down, but he got a 33 on his ACT. He didn’t get this score until end of December, so we didn’t get to use it on applications for admission or some scholarships as deadlines had passed.

We most likely are looking at smaller state schools in Texas. I think his grades/class rank will preclude him from getting any significant scholarships at private schools, making them unaffordable.

He’s already applied and been admitted to two universities, so I am not so concerned about admission. My reasons for taking a gap year would be: 1. to give him time to mature, and 2. to have a better chance at scholarships with his higher ACT score and potentially having completed IB.

Based on the above information, is a gap year advisable? If he takes community college classes during the gap year, does he become a transfer student rather than a freshman?

Thank you for your feedback.

Would he be deferring to one of the schools he has been accepted to for 2020? Or would he do brand new applications for next year (2021)? A gap year wouldn’t be unheard of for someone with his situation. One thing to keep in mind that if he were to defer enrollment for a year to a school he has been accepted to, there are some rules and guidelines, depending on the school. For example, most schools seem to have the requirement that courses can’t be taken at any school during the gap year and they can’t apply anywhere else if they’ve accepted the offer of admission. But if he is applying again for next year and turning down any acceptances he has already received, this wouldn’t be an issue.

With a 33 ACT score and a GPA above 3.0, your son should automatically receive a full out-of-state tuition scholarship from the University of Mississippi.

With respect to a gap year, what would he do for a year ?

I am not sure, I’d have to ask the universities about heir policies, but he meets their automatic admission requirements so he would get in again if he had to reapply. He may decide on a different school if he was offered good financial aid/scholarship.

Thank you for this information! His GPA is 3.4.

I think he would work, not sure where, and possibly take a community college class or two, depending on how that affected his status as a freshman applicant. We are open to other options, like being an exchange student, but haven’t really explored those opportunities much yet.

As the mother of 2 sons with inattentive ADHD, his gap year should be spent on making sure he has the tools to succeed in college. That might be hard not in an academic setting (eg hard to practice the skills needed for a long term project). Also my son with the worst ADHD started on a small campus, and this seemed to be a very good thing – less to deal with/harder to fall through the cracks.

Taking a year off to gain some maturity and life skills is a great idea. My D is also going to take a gap year, she has just been diagnosed (within the past month) with ADHD-inattentive as well and wants to get a handle on it a bit before starting college. She isn’t doing a full IB program but is mixing it up with IB/AP/Honors classes, is burned out with trying to keep all those plates spinning and wants to take some time to build her business (she goes to local comic conventions to sell her artwork). She also wants to work a W-2 job, go on a family road trip to Yellowstone in the fall/winter and possibly do an internship learning to crew a restored sailing ship, or work as a Broadway stagehand with her Dad. The Yellowstone trip and sailing are both things she feels like she wants to do while she’s young. She says if taking a gap year is good enough for Malia Obama it’s good enough for her :smiley:
She has several acceptances already and is waiting to see if her dream school comes through which she won’t know until mid Feb. All of the schools give you the ability to defer your enrollment for a certain amount of time. It’s my understanding that whichever school you choose will require you to pay the deposit, and won’t allow you to take classes at another college. They do seem to want to know that you have a plan on how you’re going to spend your time. That can be a job, attending to medical needs, taking care of someone, internships, other classes not at a college etc.
Check with the schools where he’s already accepted and see what their policies are. If he wants to apply to other schools next year, it sounds like he has some great stats and should be a very strong candidate especially if he earns the full IB diploma. That is impressive.

With ADD, starting college should be fine, but he should start slow. Take 2-3 classes in the first semester. Expect that he’ll bomb a class or two for the first semester. That’s usually the motivation to try again and take medicine consistently. For someone with ADD, college can be a big learning curve, so it’s going to take some patience at first. I think it would be good for him to live at home or at least in-state. I wouldn’t recommend a gap year, because he needs college to gain maturity.

@morkatmom It sounds like your daughter has thought of some very exciting possibilities for her gap year. My son is not so motivated. :slight_smile:

We live in a college town so there are options for staying home and taking classes and being around other college students.

Thanks to all for your input.

My son is currently taking a gap year. He has ADHD (inattentive type), was accepted with scholarships by almost all of the colleges he applied to, and was allowed to defer a year by the college he has chosen in order to do a gap year.

He spent three months (Sep-Dec) in Ireland, and is now home. Currently, he’s working/volunteering on a Presidential campaign and is also waiting tables to earn money/pay for his car/be a useful human being :slight_smile: He’s just starting to think about how he wants to spend more of his time, since taking classes isn’t an option as part of a gap year, per his college. Going to Ireland gave him the experiences that a freshman in college normally gets (living on your own, learning to live with a roommate—particularly one who might be very different from you, learning limits with alcohol, traveling without parents [in this case, in a foreign country], and being away from friends and family for more than a couple of weeks ) without the pressure of having to keep track of assignments, readings, and all else that goes with being a college student. It was a great decision to give him this gift of time—we feel much better about him going across the country to college now, and he feels much more mature and confident. He’s also enjoying having the time to continue working on a game he’s been creating for the last couple of years; high school, with all of the AP classes, sports, and amazing amounts of homework, kept him from being able to focus on this. He really missed being able to be creative. It’s been great to see him so happy. I recommend a gap year.

@Yawnmom Thank you for sharing your and your son’s experience! This sounds great.

Different colleges’ rules differ… but you should assume that any college attendance after high school graduation could jeopardize his frosh applicant status and require him to apply as a transfer, until verified otherwise with the colleges of interest.

@Yawnmom, I know this thread is old, but wondering if you could elaborate on your son’s Ireland experience. Was it through a program? And internship or something academic or a volunteer program? I’m considering suggesting the idea of a gap year to my son, but wanted to give him some concrete options for what he would be able to do with his time. The Ireland experience sounds like something he’d love.

Hi there,

I wish I could recommend the program that my son went through, but it turned out to be better suited for kids who had either been in trouble (several kids from boarding schools for troubled kids) or kids who were very young for their age, and really had no idea what to do next. My son went with an acquaintance friend, a girl, who is also an excellent student and has never been in trouble. They both found that they had nothing in common with the other kids, whose focus turned out to mostly be getting drunk many nights a week, or going to a club until the wee hours. We all felt that the program misrepresented what type of kid it was truly meant for (although they did do a ton of hiking, trust games, cleaning the beaches, and travel, and they did get to help the children once or twice a week for a few weeks, until the weather got too cold to be in the water). My son and his acquaintance friend both felt cheated out of a meaningful volunteer experience with kids, and felt lonely and disappointed.

Thanks so much for the update, and sorry that the program did not work out for your son.

He did learn a lot of important things, including all those things you need to know about living on your own. He also learned that he loves Belfast, is unafraid of finding his way around new cities on his own, and confirmed that he can get along with people very different from himself. As well, the year allowed him time to mature out of some of his natural shyness. All of this benefitted him tremendously when he started his freshman year at college across the country from us his past Fall. He was able to be on campus for the semester, albeit with quarantines and lockdowns and all the rest, and has made a big group of great friends. The benefit of the gap year has been great. It’s just the program itself that was disappointing.

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You might be interested in this. There are several programs for foreigners, but you don’t have to attend one of those if you can pick up a language quickly and on your own. Rolling admissions. What Is a Folk High School?

I believe that life is about “failure seldom stops you”(Jack Lemmon) and college is the perfect place to do that. By taking a gap year he is not gaining anything unless he has a great internship.

That is an interesting take…a bit all or nothing…

Thanks all, I appreciate this discussion!