Ask a College Advisor: What Can I Do During My Gap Year to Bolster My College Application?

Hear from one of our education professionals on gap year activities that stand out on a college application.

portrait of Lonnie Woods III
by Lonnie Woods III

Published on April 27, 2022

Edited by Amelia Buckley
Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Ask a College Advisor: What Can I Do During My Gap Year to Bolster My College Application?
Image Credit: Dougal Waters / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Question: What can I do during my gap year to bolster my college application?

Answer: During a gap year, you should find ways to pursue your interests and remain active in your community. Making progress toward your personal, academic, and career goals will make you a more competitive college applicant. Colleges like to see proof of how you spent your time so they can understand more about your strengths, personality, and values.

A strong college applicant can effectively articulate their interests. A gap year is a perfect time to clarify your passions while taking time to plan for college. Here are a few things you can do during your gap year to make your college application stronger.

Don't Treat It Like a "Year Off"


Leaving high school can be a big adjustment. A lack of structure can make it easy to lose focus. Use your time wisely by balancing rest and rejuvenation with meaningful strategies to prepare for the future and improve your college application. Schedule in time to do things like research schools, find a mentor, and stay connected to your support system.

Gain Work Experience


Getting a job, internship, or apprenticeship is a great way to show a college that you're responsible, engaged, and serious about your goals. During your gap year, apply for opportunities that reflect your values and build skills related to your potential industry.

Volunteer and Do Community Service


Giving back to your community through service projects and volunteer work shows admissions staff that you are connected to mission-driven causes. Staying active within your community gives colleges a clearer picture of how you might contribute on campus.

Travel


Traveling is a great way to expand your perspective. Visiting new places can help you add another dimension to your portfolio as a college applicant. Domestic or international travel can deepen your worldview, which could translate well to your desire to join a diverse college community.

Keep Learning


Just because you're not enrolled in school doesn't mean that you should stop learning. Whether it's through an online course, seminar, workshop, or independent learning, keep your brain active and look for opportunities to gain knowledge. These activities demonstrate that you're student-minded, even if you're not currently in school.

Improve Your Writing


One of the major components of your application packet is a well-written personal statement. During your gap year, spend time developing your writing skills through practice or courses, or find a writing tutor who can assist you in preparing a strong college admissions essay.

Summary

There are several things that you can do during a gap year to boost your college application, such as getting a job, volunteering, or pursuing passion projects. Approach your gap year as a time to learn more about yourself and a chance to show potential colleges that you're continuing your extracurricular activities beyond high school. Expand your worldview and build your college portfolio by engaging in activities that demonstrate the type of person you are and how you plan to add value to your desired school.

Check out more answers to college-related questions or submit your own question on our Ask a College Advisor page.

DISCLAIMER: The responses provided as part of the Ask a College Advisor series are for general informational purposes only. Readers should contact a professional academic, career, or financial advisor before making decisions regarding individual situations.

Getting into a college isn't an exact science. Here, we've identified five things to include on your application that may help you nail the formula. Colleges get thousands of applications each year. Learn about the most common application mistakes and how to avoid making them. Looking to earn credits more efficiently? Learn how you can use tests, work credentials, and other work and life experiences to earn college credit.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.