Should You Consider a Gap Year? - COLLEGEdata - Explore Colleges
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed the college from your Data Locker.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed the scholarship from your Data Locker.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed data to start your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed data to start your College List.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed SAT or ACT scores from your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed application details from your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed activities and awards from your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed your weighted GPA from your Admissions Profile.
Points for this activity were reversed because you removed data to complete your Admissions Profile.

Should You Consider a Gap Year?

Are you ready for a new adventure? Not sure starting college qualifies? A well-planned "year off" might make college more meaningful.

A "gap year" is not a vacation. You should have a real purpose, whether it's pursuing a passion, exploring another culture, or diving into the world of work.

A Gap Year Can Recharge Your Batteries

A gap year is time that you use, before you start college, to reconnect with learning and engage your curiosity. The possibilities are endless, but here are some examples.

  • You might spend your year working in your hometown—or living in a foreign country and learning a language.
  • You might move to a nearby big city and pursue a passion—or do service work in a third-world country.
  • You might pay thousands of dollars on an experience that is structured for you—or get a job that actually pays you.

Whatever you choose to do, be sure it challenges you.

Most Colleges Look Favorably on Gap Years

Many colleges appreciate students who take a well-planned gap year. In fact, Harvard has long included a statement in its acceptance letter encouraging applicants to consider the benefits of a year off before enrolling. Some colleges even offer a freshman year abroad, which offers some of the benefits of a gap year.

Colleges will expect you to provide a journal or other written account of your gap year. It should include reflections on your experience and explain what you learned about yourself and the world around you.

Apply to College or Take a Gap Year? You Can Do Both.

Students taking a gap year usually accept admission to a college and then formally ask for an enrollment deferral. Most colleges will react favorably if you pay your admission deposit, describe your plans, and explain how you will document your experience. It's a good idea to discretely find out the college's policy for such deferrals before you accept admittance.

If your senior grades are strong, but your earlier grades are not, you might want to wait and apply to college during your gap year. You can use your gap-year accomplishments to strengthen your application.

Consider the Downsides of a Gap Year Before You Decide

Many students enjoy the camaraderie of starting college with their peers. If you take a gap year, you'll start college a year older—although maybe wiser—than other freshmen. You may feel a bit out of place.

Taking a gap year also means you'll likely graduate at least a year later than your peers. Depending on how much you pay for your gap year, it may add to the cost of attaining your undergraduate degree.

What's Next?

For Students Age 18 and Older

Have you received a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit card?

Learn how to qualify for a Personal Invitation to apply for a Student Credit Card


1st Financial Bank believes students who pick colleges wisely will also want to learn how to use credit cards wisely.

cd$ My Data Locker

You must be logged in to view your Data Locker Dashboard

Log in to see all of your saved colleges, scholarships, articles, profiles and searches in one place. Access your Dashboard from any page.

COLLEGEdata Dollars are
points you earn by
completing certain
COLLEGEdata activities

Ways to earn
COLLEGEdata Dollars:

  • Complete your Admissions Profile.
  • Add colleges to your College Choices.
  • Update your Admissions Statuses.
  • Use the College Match tool.

What are COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$)?

COLLEGEdata Dollars (CD$) are points you earn by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. The maximum number of CD$ you can redeem is 5000. Once you have earned at least 2500 CD$, you can redeem them for $25, which will be provided to you on a Loyalty Card, and once you earn another 2500 CD$, you can redeem those CD$ for a second $25, which will also be provided to you on a Loyalty Card.

Earn points and redeem them for
U.S. Dollars

Complete certain COLLEGEdata activities (for example, signing up, starting your Admissions Profile, searching for colleges, calculating your chances for admission, searching for scholarships, updating your Profile with your admission decisions). Each activity is worth a specific amount of points (CD$). You can redeem the points you earn for U.S. Dollars that will be issued to you in the form of a 1st Financial Bank USA Loyalty Mastercard®.

How do I earn COLLEGEdata Dollars?

You can earn CD$ by completing certain COLLEGEdata activities. As soon as you sign up and activate your COLLEGEdata account, explore COLLEGEdata and begin completing COLLEGEdata activities to earn points.

Here is a full list of COLLEGEdata activities for which you may earn CD$ and the number of CD$ you can earn by completing each activity.*

Activity
CD$
×
Congratulations!
+ CD$
You just earned COLLEGEdata Dollars!
Check your CD$ Dashboard at the bottom of the page to view your CD$ balance, find other activities that you can complete to earn CD$, and redeem the CD$ you have earned for U.S. Dollars.