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Accepted at school of choice but may lose acceptance if delay a year--please advise


Harriet Vane
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My daughter has been accepted to her first choice school. She really wants to go there, and she has good reasons for wanting to be there.

 

The difficulty is that she wants to do a gap year. When we were touring schools, we carefully asked about gap year deferments, and they all said there is no problem with deferring.

 

HOWEVER, we didn't ask her first choice school, for the dumbest reason. We didn't do an "official" tour. Rather, my daughter met her aunt, an alum, and toured the school with her aunt. We also met some current students and chatted with them. So we felt like we had done our research because we were there for two days, and we didn't think about the fact that we didn't meet with an adviser.

 

So here we are, realizing that the only way to do a gap year with this school is if my dd "updates" her application to Fall 2016 rather than this coming fall. She was told today that there is no guarantee of acceptance if she does this, AND she has been told that updating her application will nullify her current acceptance.

 

She is in AGONY. She really likes this school, but she also really wants to do a gap year. She has hopes of doing an internship, possibly internationally.

 

Please advise.

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She really has to decide whether it's more important to attend Purdue or take a gap year.   She may still be accepted for next year, but no guarantee.  If she wants to do the full year internship above going to Purdue, then it would be worth it for her to take that chance.  Certainly her chances of admission are much better than if she had been denied admission or waitlisted this year. 

 

Other options are to do a summer internship and to to Purdue this fall, ask if she could take a semester or a year off her sophomore or junior year, or wait to see what she'd like to do once she's had more course work in her major. 

 

Either way, I would think that she still has some time to decide.  She should think about why she wants to take the year now.  I just read your post again, and I see that she has "hopes" of doing an internship.  While it is possible, her internship opportunities will increase with the more she's worked in her major.  Good internships are highly competitive, but I know nothing of international ones.  Maybe she should research her options more in depth to see if it's even a likely option.  That may help her decide. 

 

I'd also ask her to consider not only the best case scenarios from both options, but the worst case scenarios.  How much more agony should she reapply, not get an internship, and not be admitted to Purdue for next year.  Not necessarily likely, but possible.  If she attends Purdue next fall, what is the worst case scenario for not taking a gap year?

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If she really wants to do a gap year, she should do a gap year, but it will be risky.

 

* If the internship works out, having a cool internship will make her a much stronger candidate so she is quite likely to get accepted again.

 

* However, if the internship falls through and she ends up working at the local burger joint or twiddling her thumbs, the gap year will weaken her application considerably.

 

 

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A gap year internship would have to be especially interesting, IMO, to balance out the risk not being accepted the following year.  It all depends on the specifics of the gap year internship and her reasons for wanting to take the gap year, which maybe I missed above.  If there isn't an actual internship in the works/on the horizon, as a parent, I'd vote for going straight to Purdue.

 

Is she leaning toward a major?  There are certain majors for which I'd guess it would be better not to take a gap year in the middle of college, after freshman year, as some courses build on others and some knowledge (e.g. math, foreign language) could be forgotten.  Summer internships might be a better option.

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She wants to do the gap year because we have always talked about doing a gap year as a way to gain perspective on a chosen career path and to gain some international experience. It has never been her intention to drift or work at a burger joint. Rather, she wants to gain some experience in a school somewhere and she wants experience with non-English speakers so that she can affirm her career interests in teaching and in teaching English as a second language.

 

We know that she would gain classroom experience as an education major, but the thought is to gain some experience before college so that the college experience is targeted and efficient.

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When students did internships during college when I was in school they were called "co-ops" and the school actually helped set them up. I had friends do co-ops all over the place, including one who went overseas for the C I A.  :ohmy:  A former neighbor's kid is "on co-op" this semester, working at a nuclear plant. He plans to do at least one more, perhaps during the summer, but maybe during the school year, at another energy producing place, to compare the two. Now, maybe these aren't relevant to your daughter, but they are certainly something to keep in mind.

 

Does she already have leads on this international internship? Can THEY hold off a year?

[ETA:  I was typing when you posted. If she really wants to go to Purdue, I'd definitely hold off on the internship and see if Purdue will help her set something up after her Freshman year.]

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I'm going to buck the trend and say that an international internship without a college degree will be far less valuable than work she could do post-college or even during college.

 

A year overseas, an internship or fellowship, will be far more educational and she'll get more responsibility than she would as a "mere" high school grad (even if she is already working now).

 

If it were me talking to my child or younger self I would say--take this opportunity. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. I will help you find a way to get an undergraduate fellowship and internships overseas during your college career.

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 Rather, she wants to gain some experience in a school somewhere and she wants experience with non-English speakers so that she can affirm her career interests in teaching and in teaching English as a second language.

 

We know that she would gain classroom experience as an education major, but the thought is to gain some experience before college so that the college experience is targeted and efficient.

 

Purdue, absolutely. She can travel abroad, she can volunteer in a classroom - one school my dd is looking at has teaching english as 2nd lang. as one of their abroad opportunities. 

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She wants to do the gap year because we have always talked about doing a gap year as a way to gain perspective on a chosen career path and to gain some international experience. It has never been her intention to drift or work at a burger joint. Rather, she wants to gain some experience in a school somewhere and she wants experience with non-English speakers so that she can affirm her career interests in teaching and in teaching English as a second language.

 

We know that she would gain classroom experience as an education major, but the thought is to gain some experience before college so that the college experience is targeted and efficient.

Are there any esl tutor volunteer possibilities in your town? My local library has both esl and literacy volunteer jobs. She doesn't need to go very far to get volunteer experience teaching English.

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Are there any esl tutor volunteer possibilities in your town? My local library has both esl and literacy volunteer jobs. She doesn't need to go very far to get volunteer experience teaching English.

 

Yes, there are those opportunities where we live. She hopes to take advantage in some way. The gap year was meant to be a combination--work and volunteer near home and also go away somewhere. We were loosely thinking that she could work and volunteer here for the first semester, then go somewhere for 2-3 months. We are in the process right now of researching and trying to nail down what's truly possible.

 

Where we live, we know of two definite possibilities for international friendship help and for ESL tutoring. I am sure there are more such opportunities as well due to nearby colleges.

 

In terms of international work, we are just at the beginning of trying to nail that down. We have many ideas, and we have at least one very definite lead. Our original plan was to wade through the college application mess first, then wade through her choices for the gap year, hoping to have it all sewn up be semester's end.

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Have you spoken directly to a live person in the admissions office at the first-choice school about their gap year deferment policies and your student's interest in deferring for a year for a gap year? If not, get a phone interview with someone who is NOT a student employee but who is actually involved in the acceptance/admission process, and/or an academic advisor, which will give you the opportunity to ask your questions about their policies, and ask if it is possible to add this to her application and acceptance status, or if it is advisable or not to do so.

 

Ask for an exception to their policy of allowing a deferment after already being accepted. It's not unreasonable of you at all, as it is still early in the acceptance game for the school -- they still have 3 months for filling out their freshman ranks. Esp. since you have a very clear plan for a gap year that would help make DD a more desirable student for them in the end...

 

If you have already done this, disregard my post, as it does not apply. BEST of luck, whatever you decide! Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

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Harriet, what possibilities was she looking at for teaching ESL overseas? Most require TEFL if not a four-year degree. 

 

 

 

We are in the process right now of researching and trying to nail down what's truly possible.

 

Having taught ESL overseas, and having friends in TESL/TEFL, I would strongly encourage you to figure this out right now before making the decision.

 

Often it is harder than you'd think to get through all the applications, medical clearances, etc. and TEFL training, just to get a three-month post.

 

Moreover, it's important for her to consider what kind of experience and instruction she can give kids in three months without a degree in teaching, and the places she would be working.

 

I really, really get that she wants experience and as a teen I travelled internationally, worked, and also volunteered as a TEFL tutor.

 

But teaching without a degree was nothing like teaching even after a Peace Corps crash course and my friend who is a TEFL teacher (she has an MEd by the way) said that she can't believe we were allowed to teach with that little knowledge. We inflicted a lot on the kids in some cases.

 

I am not trying to suggest your daughter does not pursue this but I strongly suggest getting a very specific, concrete handle on what "gap year internship" means in her case before moving forward on a decision. Purdue is what it is. A gap year could be anything from finding out the realities of international development at the age of 17 while alone with an alcoholic manager in Cambodia (ask me how I know), to getting on-the-ground teaching experience in a highly facilitated, safe environment (I don't see how this could be cheap but it could be extremely enriching).

 

Undergraduate fellowships will be somewhat more predictable.

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Okay wait a minute, my dd did the same thing. She learned she had a full scholarship after she had accepted an internship in California. She wrote a formal letter to the dean explaining her plans and asking for the gap year. He responded granting her request to honor the full scholarship with the gap year. We did send the letter to the dean certified mail to be certain it reached his ears. 

 

Our response was not as formal but I was sure to keep careful documentation and brought it to their attention upon her return and they kept their word and now she is attending.  :hurray:

 

We never had to do anything else but that.

 

Kathy

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I feel like there is some disconnect here on the idea of a gap year. I am not necessarily arguing against dd going to school next year. However, some of the posts on this thread have me wondering, as I said, if there is a disconnect in understanding.

 

Dd and I both know perfectly well that she is not qualified to be hired into an official teaching position as an ESL or TESOL teacher. We are both well aware that she would have those more official opportunities as a college student. There seems to be value in doing BOTH--getting real world experience and a closer, more practical look at her options before committing money and time to college, AND following that up by being a stellar student in her chosen major and pursuing every opportunity that a university has to offer, including internships and study abroad.

 

For a gap year, dd is hoping to volunteer in some capacity in a school, and she has a few leads to do so. She may be able to do so where we live at a private school, and she is also exploring the option of helping at a charter school. If something does not work out here, she has some options where we used to live.

 

International travel may involve a school, or it may not. Dd is exploring such ideas as volunteering in a children's malnutrition center in a Third World country or doing language immersion somewhere (among others). She has a list of specific people and organizations, and is doing her very best to research and make phone calls to figure out what the real options are.

 

We have personally known several kids who took a gap year. One chose to go to a language immersion course in France for a couple months. That teen's sister spent one semester coaching soccer in the inner city, and the next semester volunteering in an orphanage in Honduras for her gap year. Another teen I know was fortunate to be hired as an intern at an engineering firm, where he worked for just under a year. That internship had a major effect as he ended up changing his major (still within engineering, just a different flavor of engineering). Another student I know took a gap year to work in theater. And one kid I know was sick with disappointment over not getting into his first choice school, took a gap year to work and lick his wounds, reapplied to his first choice school, and was accepted. (That's not a path I want for my daughter, but it worked out rather well for this teenager.)

 

Our own dear Susan Wise Bauer's oldest had a fabulous gap year (real all four parts):

 

http://www.welltrainedmind.com/the-gap-year-part-i-a-definition/

 

Each of these kids did their gap year at the age of 18, and each of them were very pleased with the gains of that year.

 

As I said earlier, dd's intent was never to drift. Our understanding has always been that the gap year would be to further her understanding of her hopeful career path, to gain some international perspective, and to volunteer in some capacity. We have done a lot of reading about it, and we know that it can be done.

 

The question in our life came up because we didn't expect to learn that the university does not entertain deferment and that dd risks losing her spot at that university. Dd is naturally emotionally invested in her first choice school, but she is also emotionally invested in the gap year we have been talking about for so long.

 

So--I really appreciate any discussion and perspective. Please just try to keep the discussion balanced with an understanding that a gap year can be a productive time for a focused, hard working young adult.

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I would get confirmation about this policy, just to make sure.

 

And then I think I'd say instead of a gap year, she should just go now (assuming schooling is finished) From April to Aug would be 5 months and that's an awesome length to volunteer and travel. I think the gap year as a whole year off thing is more important for kids who finish in late June and start college 2 months later, and especially so if they're vague and undecided about what they want to study. Your dd already has a plan and a vision...

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My kids are young and I'm no expert, but my first thought is to find out where she is in their stats. If she's in the top 20% of scores, for example, I would be more likely  to take the chance of re-applying than if she's in the bottom 20%. (Or whatever percentages, but you get the idea.) 

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So--I really appreciate any discussion and perspective. Please just try to keep the discussion balanced with an understanding that a gap year can be a productive time for a focused, hard working young adult.

 

I think many of us who suggested she go ahead & go to Purdue this fall and do "gap year" activities either this summer or after Freshman year are supportive of gap years. I know I was looking at the possible go/no go decision with Purdue vs. gap year next year. To me, a bird in the hand with great opportunities available later is worth way more than possibly losing the bird with only some vague possibilities to grasp at.

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Does Purdue have a 'study abroad' option available?  Many colleges offer that for one semester or even one year.  Those formal programs are tremendously broadening, and they count toward your course work while rounding out your resume.  Plus they tend not to be significantly more expensive than a year of college at home, except for the transportation to and from.  Kind of a win win.

ETA:  Regarding the issue of having anticipated a 'gap year' for a long time, eagerly, my view would be that a gap year can occur part way through or at the end of college, and if someone gets into their favorite university that is a trump card type bird in hand.  No need to lose all that planning, no need to forego this anticipated special time, just a need to consider moving it out a year or a few years.

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Youngest dd did her gap year between sophomore and junior year. It was perfect. She needed the academic break and after she took that break, she was super focused and motivated to finish. 

 

Purdue might make an exception for your dd, so it's worth asking. But if they won't, taking a gap year later is ok too. 

Hope it works out for your dd. 

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Dd and I both know perfectly well that she is not qualified to be hired into an official teaching position as an ESL or TESOL teacher. We are both well aware that she would have those more official opportunities as a college student. There seems to be value in doing BOTH--getting real world experience and a closer, more practical look at her options before committing money and time to college, AND following that up by being a stellar student in her chosen major and pursuing every opportunity that a university has to offer, including internships and study abroad.

 

I see. My impression was that she was in some way justifying a gap year by thinking she would strengthen her application and focus her career.From that perspective, my thought was--it's not going to be enough of a strengthener or focuser to justify risking Purdue. Because those two goals can be accomplished otherwise.

 

That said, if she just really psychologically needs a year of exploration, that is different, and I think that would justify taking the risk. Heck, even if she could travel.

 

I wish her the best. I loved traveling in my youth and I think it's a great idea. I just also know how hard it is to get into one's top choice nowadays.

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I am a big believer in gap years.  I'd be thrilled if my son decided to take one, so I can understand her dilemma.

 

I guess the question is, how strongly does she feel about Purdue, relative to other schools on her list, or other similar schools.  If it was a hard decision between Purdue and another school that allows gap years, then it might be worth it to just choose the other school.  Or if she got into Purdue early, and so didn't apply to other similar schools, it might be worth waiting and reapplying to Purdue and a few other schools after a gap year.  One bright point would be that by not asking Purdue to commit to her, she's not committing Purdue.  So, if her gap year reveals other interests, she's able to pursue them and explore new schools.

 

On the other hand, if she's got her heart set on Purdue, and can't imagine going somewhere else, then I think it probably makes the most sense to go to Purdue and defer her gap year a year or two.  

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Was Purdue a reach for her?  If so, I would take the acceptance and defer the gap year.  If no, I would roll the dice on getting accepted next year.  Her scores and GPA are not going to change; if anything, a gap year would strengthen her application after the gap.

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Why did your dd apply to college now if she wanted to wait a year?

 

Most of the the schools to which she applied do allow a student to defer for a year. We were very careful to ask that question when we visited campus. As I said in my OP, we missed that step with this university because dd toured the school with her aunt. It was an idiotic oversight on our part.

 

She applied to schools this year because it is important to both her and to us that she not "drift" during her gap year. Having acceptances under her belt and a plan for her education seemed like a secure plan for both maintaining focus in the gap year and for getting her education efficiently.

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Harriet,

 

Here's a thought exercise that might help you figure it out.  If you had thought to ask Purdue, and they had told you that they didn't allow gap years, what would she have done? Maybe the answer to that question could help guide you.

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Harriet,

 

Here's a thought exercise that might help you figure it out.  If you had thought to ask Purdue, and they had told you that they didn't allow gap years, what would she have done? Maybe the answer to that question could help guide you.

 

She would have waited to apply next year.

 

In that sense, re-applying is the same thing.

 

Except that it's not. Having an acceptance in hand and knowing you might lose it is agonizing.

 

She doesn't have to decide this minute, thankfully. She is taking some time to see if any of her gap year possibilities can be a reality, and she wants to see what that reality really might look like. She is also going to go visit campus again at her top choices. If she can live with a potential second or third choice option, then the gap year is a good thing to pursue. If she is totally sold on her first choice, then she may choose to go to school this fall after all.

 

Lots of prayer, lots of late night cocoa + talking going on here . . . .

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