Is a Gap Year a better option than applying as a Freshman?

Hi, I’ve been lurking on CC for some time now and I have been trying to find some advice or help that could be applicable to my situation. I would love any feedback or comments as I am torn between going to my state school and transferring out or taking a gap year to reapply with my better stats.
To keep things brief- I applied last admissions season while I was a senior in High School and I mistakenly applied to only top schools and extreme reaches. When I applied, I had a 3.4 UW/ 4.1 W GPA (taking IB/AP courses at a regular public school in Nevada), a 24 ACT (I know…) and great athletics, EC’s and leadership. In conclusion, I was rejected everywhere except for 4 waitlists at T20/30 which I did not get off of. However, since I applied RD in January, I now have a 3.7UW/4.5W GPA (by taking a heavy load senior year and getting straight A’s as well as retaking some classes) and a 31 composite on my ACT. I also did not send any SAT subject test scores when I applied but I now have 2 decent SAT subject tests scores, 710 and 750.
If I were to take a Gap Year I would spend July-November on college apps/testing, reevaluating my college choices and applying to schools that did not see my weaker application, as well as working. I’ve also applied for study abroad volunteering opportunities and I am working on landing a few fellowships in my area. Besides my academic aspirations on my Gap Year (pending) I plan on doing more things I love and gaining some clarity about what I want for myself in the future. I say this because I do not intend to consume myself in a system that didn’t work out so well for me the first time.

If you’ve been so kind to read all of this, PLEASE! give me any advice you have on my situation. Are my stats improved enough that I should try again? Am I wasting my time on a Gap Year? Would a Gap Year be better than transferring out of my state school in terms of getting into a higher ranking university? What am I missing or forgetting or mistakenly downplaying?? Thank you in advance!!!

Without knowing the school you’re targeting, it’s hard to say. Generally, the top tier schools may not accept your “retaken” courses as boosting your GPA if they were taken after graduation. Some might not accept test scores after high school graduation.

To answer your questions, I think a gap year is a waste of time for targeting T30 schools.

If you can tell us what school you got accepted to and what your potential major might be then it might help us to give better advice. On the other hand, if you have no idea whatsoever what your potential major might be then this might be a reason to take a gap year.

I am inclined to agree with @Hippobirdy that taking a gap year and reapplying to top 30 schools is not likely to come out any different than it did this year. There are plenty of students with only one or two or even no B’s in their entire lives who do not get into top 30 universities for undergrad.

However, to me the most likely downside of taking a gap year is that you take a year off and end up attending the same school that you are already expecting to attend. If you have worthwhile things to do during your gap year, this does not seem to be a problem.

You could attend your in-state public school and try to transfer. However, do not count on being able to transfer to a top 30 university in the US. If you do attend your in-state public school, try to do as well there as you can but expect that you are likely to be there for a full four years.

OP, Are you targeting small liberal arts colleges?
Have you considered WUE schools or honors colleges? Are you considering pre professional programs/ or grad school?

Is UNR or UNLV academically unsuitable for your academic and professional goals?

I’m looking into schools like Wellesley College (I was put on the waitlist here and it is my dream school) and Barnard College (rejected from). These are very different than the other schools I would also like to attend which are Boston University (I’ve been rejected), Rice (waitlisted), and USC. My major when I applied was linguistics and political science but since reevaluating my academic awards and my ec’s I think applying as an economics and/or political science major is to my advantage. While I plan on going to grad school, I have not yet considered any plans past getting my undergrad.

I got waitlisted at Rice, Wellesley, Vassar, Reed, Wash U, and RPI.
I want to apply as an economics major or a political science major. I previously applied as a linguistics major and based my essays around my curiosity of linguistic knowledge and applications but since reevaluating, I want to apply as an economics and or political science major.

I missed the UNLV deadline because I was not anticipating my current options. I would be attending UNR and I just do not think it is a place I would thrive and be challenged enough. I also know that I am biased to rejecting UNR because of the fact that so many kids from my high school will be there and I feel that if I’m staying in Nevada, my progress is stagnant. If you have anything you know about UNR that would help change my attitude about the school I would greatly appreciate it.

See the econ dept newsletter. Rising in rankings and opportunities for motivated students to get involved.
Organized conference at Lake Tahoe. Affiliated with two universities in Europe. Sounds like sky is limit for econ.

Your ACT is still low for your target schools and your guidance counselor should have uploaded mid term grades for all the RD schools so they have already seen some of your senior year grades.

As mentioned upthread, not all schools will take into consideration a retaken class grade or the ACT/SAT taken after HS.

I think you are better off starting college in state and then if you have a successful first year and are still feeling unfulfilled, putting in a transfer application. I don’t see a gap year yielding any different results.

A gap year where you so something beyond simply re-taking standardized tests could make a meaningful difference in your applications. But that would require that you do something. Things are ratcheting up for the 2020 elections. If you are serious about Poli Sci, you would already have attached yourself to a political campaign of some sort. Have you done that?

You got waitlisted at a number of excellent institutions. That tells me that your application even as it was last fall, was a pretty strong one. Bryn Mawr, Smith, and Mt Holyoke might have been admits when Wellesley was a waitlist. Agnes Scott, Spellman, and Hollins almost certainly would have been admits.

How much money do you need? Generally speaking, transfer admission is more difficult than freshman admission, and certainly merit-based aid is usually a lot worse for transfer applicants. So yes, if you would need significant aid to attend places that you like better than UNR, one gap year can make lots of sense.

I agree that you’re aiming too high, and taking a gap year along with new test scores isn’t going to boost your app at top schools. Nothing wrong at all with taking a gap year, but I caution you not to do it expecting it will give you a boost. Unless you do something very meaningful that has some kind of noticeable impact, it’s not going to make a difference at top schools.

Make a new list based on your previous grades and choose schools that put you in the 75th percentile.

Go to your state school with an open mind and put forth every effort to have the best experience you can. Reevaluate in January to decide if you want to transfer. You may love your new college. Career success comes out of every single college/university. It is not limited to only the top ranked schools.

Nevada may be a heavily contested state in the 2020 election, so it may be a good place to be if you are studying political science. However, someone interested in studying political science may not necessarily have strong enough political views aligned to a particular candidate or party to want to be attached to that candidate or party campaign.

A gap year gives a teen time to gain perspective, insight, and direction. The high school years can be exhausting for a teen, leaving little time to think about the future.
Here I want to share one example,
I spoke with the parents of a student-athlete who spent the months between October and April of his high school years on the road competing. He would spend the rest of his time studying, catching up on missed assignments and tests, and preparing for college admissions. He had almost no time left for life outside of sports and schoolwork. By the time he graduated from high school, he was burnt out and needed a break. After applying and receiving college acceptance letters, he decided to explore his interest in economics and finance and interned with a wealth management company. He developed new skills and knowledge in his chosen industry and learned so much about himself that by the time he started college, he knew what he wanted to do with his life.

A gap year provides a teen with time to explore new activities and/or deepen knowledge and involvement into already established interests and passions.