Many students in countries overseas, take a gap year which is increasingly becoming more and more popular in the US. There are pros and cons but overall, if you use your time wisely, it can only add more to your application status.
If an admissions rep. reads an app. from a student that took a gap year but did not really do anything with their time, the in between year will do them harm. On the other hand, if you let the colleges know that you have worked full-time to save for school, you have spent a year with Americorps, you have volunteered a great deal of your time, you traveled and undertook the learning of a new language all of these things, will help not hurt, you.
Some individuals are fearful that if a year is taken off, students may find it hard to return to school but for the most part, this is no more than a myth. As a matter of fact, having been involved in a strong activity during the gap year, students often return to school even more determined to do well in order to return to the workforce armed with even more knowledge and skill then before.
One thing you can go is to apply to your colleges and defer your acceptance explaining to the college of your choice that, you will be taking a gap year but will enroll the following September. Although this is a good strategy, one must be careful as sometimes, being in the workforce or in the volunteer sector, may change a student's mind in regard to where they will attend school. It is also wise to keep in mind that you still need to take the SAT/ACT - check with your guidance counselor about having transcripts sent post-graduation - having the recommendations on hand so that if you decided on a different school, you would know the process and have materials on hand when you go to apply.
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