The 10 Best Colleges for Students Taking a Gap Year

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By BCR Staff

The transition from high school to college is one of the most memorable times in one’s life. Between managing more of your own time to honing in on a career, those first steps into higher learning are significant in becoming a self-reliant adult. More and more students are taking what’s known as a “Gap Year” before taking the plunge into college; a gap year is an interim where students delay entering college, taking advantage of the opportunity to travel, volunteer, work, or otherwise use the time to prepare themselves for the next step in their academic journey.

Below are the top 10 colleges for students taking a gap year. These colleges were selected from a methodology that applied the following criteria:

  • Level of acceptance for students taking a gap year (1-4 points)
  • Academic or related resources for gap year students to take advantage of during their gap year (1-3 points)
  • Progressive approach to education (1-3 points)
  • Accolades and rankings from other respected education publications (1-3 points)

In the event of a tie in points, the college with the lower net price was ranked higher.

All tuition and enrollment data was sourced from College Navigator.

#10 – Texas Christian University

Fort Worth, Texas


Points: 8
Total Enrollment: 10,394
Net Price: $33,362

Founded in 1873, Texas Christian University is a progressive academic institution which values an individualized education. TCU is among the top colleges which allow gap year students, stating that it is highly encouraging of this period of exploration before entering higher education. At $500, TCU has a comparatively low tuition deposit for students requesting a gap year; this college also indicates that there is an easy approval for gap year applications, and all merit-based scholarships will be securely held until the student officially enrolls.

#9 – Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, New York


Vassar College

Points: 8
Total Enrollment: 2,424
Net Price: $21,933

Based in New York State’s beautiful Hudson Valley, Vassar College is a globally recognized, selective institution with some of the most respected alumni. Vassar is among the higher learning institutions that recognize the need for some students to take a gap year; VC’s policy includes an increased non-refundable security deposit and an application stating the intention of the gap year’s activity.

#8 – Lewis and Clark College

Portland, Oregon


Lewis and Clark College

Points: 9
Total Enrollment: 3,419
Tuition (Out-of-State): $35,849

Lewis and Clark College is a prestigious private school with stellar academics, state-of-the-art learning resources, and seasoned faculty. This college is comprised of a diverse range of academics that encompass specializations in liberal arts, education, and law. A forward-thinking school with a selective admissions process, Lewis and Clark is proudly in support of students determining the best choices for their education; among these supported choices is taking time off to explore after high school, making this college is a top school for gap year students.

#7 – University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, Alabama


Points: 9
Total Enrollment: 37,665
Net Price: $20,133

The University of Alabama

The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa is a large institution with excellent academics and scholar-level faculty. U.S. News World Report has ranked UA among the top 60 public universities for ten years and counting. This college has recently reached a record-high enrollment, now at 37,665. UA is also a top college that allows a gap year, with the stipulation that you do not earn credits from any other institution within that time. This award-winning institution also specifies that the only GPA, SAT and ACT scores that will remain for consideration are from gap year students’ high school junior-senior years.

#6 – Prescott College

Prescott, Arizona


Prescott College

Points: 10
Total Enrollment: 702
Net Price: $25,280

Prescott College of Arizona is a small academic community that ranks consistently as a top liberal arts school that offers students a great value. PC values a custom-made degree, designed with the best interests of students in mind. Prescott has a highly unique education model that believes students should be self-directed and open to experiential learning; this philosophy places Prescott among the best colleges for students taking a gap year, as they support the practice of bringing world experience to their college education.

#5 – University of Richmond

Richmond, Virginia


University of Richmond

Points: 10
Total Enrollment: 4,131
Net Price: $22,400

The University of Richmond is a respected, high-ranked school with an astounding 99% post-graduation employment rate. Additionally, this college provides every admitted student $4,000 entirely for the purpose of research or internship opportunities. Richmond is among the best colleges that support gap years, and will accept these requests on a discretionary basis. Accepted gap-year applications are secured with a non-refundable deposit, all scholarship and other merit-based awards will automatically forward to be effective at time of enrollment.

#4 – Houghton College

Houghton, New York


Houghton College Best Small Colleges

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 1,059
Net Price: $31,040

Houghton College of Western New York is a resource-rich Christian-based college that has earned accolades for its academic leadership and “affordable excellence.” Houghton values each student’s individual potential, and is among the best colleges that allow students to take a gap year; HC’s gap year application is typically accepted with no considerable change in financial packages if the student is in the same academic and monetary standing. Additionally, Houghton has made available a Spanish language learning program that certain qualifying gap year students can pursue.

#3 – Middlebury College

Middlebury, Vermont


Middlebury College

Points: 11
Total Enrollment: 2,549
Net Price: $21,437

Based in the beautiful Champlain Valley, Middlebury College of Vermont explores education both in and outside the classroom walls. Founded in 1880, this college has also extended its academic reach through satellite programming; these progressive, diverse education initiatives were designed to foster multicultural connections. MC is among the top colleges that support a gap year and even provides numerous suggestions to gap year students in making the most of their time.

#2 – Colorado College

Colorado Springs, Colorado


Points: 12
Total Enrollment: 2,114
Net Price: $23,81

Colorado College

Colorado College is a dynamic academic institution with progressive, student-centered programs. CC is well-known for its “Block Plan” semester structure, where students are immersed in one course at a time for three-four week increments. This school values pursuit of independent education goals and a full life outside of the classroom setting. Colorado College is a school that allows gap year students, as it aligns with their education philosophy of developing both personally and intellectually.

#1 – Florida State University

Tallahassee, Florida



Points: 13
Total Enrollment: 41,173
Net Price: $16,506

A top college for gap year students, Florida State University is known to be particularly encouraging when it comes to the benefits of taking time off between high school and college. Once applicants are accepted to this college, FSU is reported to automatically consider all gap year students for a $5,000 scholarship to use during their interim undertaking. Additionally, Florida State is highly attentive to gap year students, assisting the process of reacclimating to academia; this college’s departments such as FSU Center for Leadership and Social Change and the Center for Undergraduate Research & Academic Engagement are especially involved in reconnecting gap year students.

The preceding list represents the top 10 colleges for students taking a gap year.

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