Should I take a Gap year and reapply or transfer later on?

Unfortunately I didn’t get into Northwestern…
I thought I would like WashU, but after going in-person (recently) and speaking with students, my opinion changed.

So why continue to talk about schools you didnt get in to? You have to face reality and the choices you have now.

Your chances of getting into schools that declined you after taking a gap year are even less than they were to begin with.

Look at the NACAC list to see if theres any other schools on that list you feel you might not hate as much.

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Not necessarily true IF I do something big during a gap year…which is easier said than done…

Conceivably, you could take a gap year and reapply to USC with a compelling (or believable…) reason why you passed on them the first time and are 1000% certain you will commit if they readmit you. Did covid impact your family situation or mental health?

My brother passed on Vandy (ignoring me, obviously) for a UC school to help my parents take care of our ailing grandpa and to support his girlfriend who was struggling with mental health. Grandpa promptly passed and he realized the relationship wasn’t healthy, so spent a year working full-time at a youth rec center, taking community college classes, and getting his personal trainer certification. Convinced Vandy to take him back and graduated in 3 years.

Realistically, this may be your best option at this point. You could learn SO MUCH about yourself and life in a gap year, that’s plenty of time to spin up a company, go hang around a start-up until they start giving you stuff to do, intern at a business you’ve always admired…it might be just what you need after all!

Yes, OP could take a gap year and use it well and reapply to schools he got accepted into but he chose to decline. He could have a higher chance of getting into one of those schools.

We are saying that schools that outright rejected him this year are not likely to take him after a gap year.


If I take a gap year, I’m going to want to reapply to Northwestern/Columbia/Penn. I meant, out of the 3 I maybe should’ve just picked USC, but I will want to do what I can do get into those other schools…
I don’t really have a materialized plan at the moment and I feel like it’s not smart to just do without one, do you agree?

Part of the problem may be that a large part of why I would do a gap year is to reapply. Not that it would be 100% the reason why, but a large part of it.

@sadgiraffe if your opinion of WUSL is driven by the reasons you state and you dislike so many things about WUSL, I think you should consider other schools that accepted you. If you are to attend college in the fall, and you don’t want to be at WUSL, choose another place. It sounds like you’ve already know you will be miserable and unfulfilled at WUSL.

You’ve told us what you like about the schools that did not offer admission to you. What about the schools that accepted you other than WUSL? What other universities accepted you? Do you think you could be happy and satisfied at any of them? If not, do you think you could accept being at one of those and feel more content than at WUSL?


Um, Northwestern is very prestigious.

You may have met the bare minimum for Ivy League schools, but from the acceptances you did get, it seems clear that you weren’t quite at the level those schools look for. And I have to seriously question this: “I wanted to go to Penn/Northwestern/Columbia or one of the Ivies/top-tiers. (Stanford/Harvard/Princeton/MIT).” Penn and Columbia ARE top tiers and Ivies. You wanted to go there, but you can’t.

You are much too fixated on prestige. There is very little if any difference in outcomes for a grad from Wash U and a grad from Princeton. From your other thread, I have to seriously wonder why you chose it when it seemed you much preferred CMC. But that option is gone now. So you need to go to Wash U and make the most of it.

We’ve already suggested what your best option is for this coming Fall. If you simply can’t stomach the idea, go to CC for a year and knock it out of the park, then transfer. Some schools, such as Brown and USC, are known for liking CC transfer students.


Yep, USC takes a lot of CC transfers. The UCs too (though it’s tough to transfer in for the most popular majors). So does Vandy (but Vandy is at the same tier as WashU shrug)

Even though I think you have some misconceptions of WashU, don’t go there if you have such a negative attitude of it already.

It’s mystifying why you didn’t choose USC (a peer of WashU) or CMC (a top LAC).

You wanting to get in to some extremely selective schools (they’re all more selective in the RD round than the schools you got in to) doesn’t actually make them more likely for you. So go to CC or take a gap year. More importantly, really consider why you think and feel the way you do. The way you’re coming across just doesn’t show a lot of maturity or awareness of self (granted, this is true of a lot of teenagers) and while some applicants who get in to the top schools may be similar, a decent number of them blow away adults in terms of self-awareness; awareness in general.


You are going to waste a year if your goal is to reapply to schools that rejected you. A productive gap year and a new set of schools might work but I think you are better off going to Wash U and knocking it out of the park there.


If the plan b is to take a gap year and reapply to Ivies only, that is foolish.
Plan c should be to take a gap year and reapply to the colleges that did accept you.

I’m curious what op will do though when they are rejected from the ivies after a gap year. At what point will they give up since they seem so fueled by name and prestige.


I agree with this. Applications are due in 5-7 months, that is likely not enough time to move the needle at all (meaning getting an acceptance from a school that did not accept you this spring).

Even when transferring based on three semesters of straight As, it’s difficult to be accepted to a school that previously didn’t accept a student (they will still have all initial application records/notes/decision on file).


I think the flawed thinking here is that because OP was accepted to some excellent schools right below the Ivies in terms of selectivity that they “just missed out” on being accepted to an Ivy. The truth is that scores of eminently qualified, fantastic students are turned away from these schools every year. The OP would be better served, if WashU is really off the table, to apply to an entirely different set of schools (and re-apply to any acceptances) with an eye to ONLY applying to schools that they would be happy to attend. If they want to throw their hat back into the Columbia/Penn ring, fine, but to just rely on that will almost certainly result in disappointment.


It is likely that OP picked Washu over USC or CMC based solely on rankings - not fit, & they are now regretting their decision. They may have seen that WashU had a higher ranking in USNWR than the other schools and this clouded their thinking & then they picked WashU but now all they see are the things they don’t like about it. The problem, is now they are considering doing the same thing again next year - hoping to go to a school based mainly on the ranking system rather than “fit”. If being near a more exciting city is the biggest factor - own that and take a gap year. However, if they are looking for a student population that is less “work hard”, they are not going to find that at any school in the T15 or whatever level they are aiming for.


Yeah, one problem is that the OP hasn’t interacted with the admits of colleges they didn’t get in to. If the OP did, they may well discover that there actually isn’t much difference between the WashU student body and the student body at most of the schools that rejected them.

Oh, and yes, if letting rankings determined by some fairly arbitrary criteria done by people you don’t know decide for you where you will spend the next 4 years of your life isn’t the epitome of lack of self-awareness/maturity, I’m not sure what is.


Others have made this clear but just to spell it out (and I say this with a lot of compassion):
You. will. not. be. accepted. to. any. school. that. already. denied. you. And the chance of getting into an Ivy for next year is virtually zero – if it’s that important to you, go ahead and try, but you cannot plan on it in the slightest. That’s it, and I’m sorry, I understand that’s really hard to hear and a devastating personal loss for you. I feel for you. It’s okay to sit with that, be sad or mad, find someone to talk to about it, break some glass bottles in a dumpster, whatever helps. You need to really grieve that loss so that you can find a way to move forward to a better place.

The other thing I’ll say is something you should know somewhere deep down: People go to college as a means to more important ends: learning, becoming successful, and being happy. I assume that’s what you want too! And you can absolutely achieve that at WashU, USC, CMC, a UC, a CC to a UC, or a ton of other schools. By staying stuck in this unhappy, paralyzing decision trap, you are actually prioritizing your (problematic) idea of prestige/‘fit’ over the more important goals of your actual learning, long-term success, and happiness.

And lastly, I promise you: there will be parties and fun and “play hard” at all of the colleges you’re discussing, including WashU (I went there! I partied! Woo!) We would let you know if you’d suggested any school with no social/party culture. So decide whether you want a school that also has big sports, but otherwise quit worrying about parties and fun. A “work hard” culture is a defining feature of all T20 (probably T50) schools – if that’s such a turn-off for you, you’ll have to totally rethink your college list.

I hope I don’t sound too harsh, I really do believe in you and we’re all really trying to help you find a next step where you’ll be happy and successful – we just need you to see that the pathways that are available and open to you are just as good, or better, than losing all your time/energy/happiness pining over imagined pathways that are not, and will not, be an option.


That’s not true for the OP, I participated in the other thread, WashU is ranked higher than USC, in fact WashU is the highest ranked school OP got in to, besides CMC, and didn’t go because of fit, which is exactly what you’re saying OP should do. The kid doesn’t clearly fit at WashU, I asked a couple of college students about it, it’s basically the social unrest in St Louis and the overall politics of Missouri.

I wonder if you could go back to another school such as USC and mention that you changed your mind and would like to attend. They may not have space for fall, but might give you a Spring admit. Like others have said, those schools that have rejected you, will not accept you later.

Other option is to try Wash U. If you are so unhappy , after freshman year transfer somewhere. Once again, not likely to be an IVY, but maybe Northwestern would consider a transfer. You would need stellar grades and to be involved/meaningful extracurriculars (similar to HS). You may discover that you like it there. Also know that some people get into their dream schools and discover the other way, that its not what they thought.


There’s social unrest all over this country (Columbia, Harvard, Penn, and pretty much all the urban Ivies/equivalents must be out, then). As well as good schools in red states. Guess Rice and Duke (home state of Madison Cawthorn) are verboten.

Guess there’s Dartmouth. Wait, they have a GOP governor.

I suppose there’s Cornell.