The 5 Best Colleges for Students Taking a Gap Year

Updated October 21, 2021 | Staff

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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 5 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.

#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.

#2 – Colorado College

Colorado Springs, Colorado


Points: 12

Total Enrollment: 2,114

Net Price: $23,81

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.

#3 – Middlebury College

Middlebury, Vermont


Points: 11

Total Enrollment: 2,549Net 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.

#4 – Houghton College

Houghton, New York


Points: 11

Total Enrollment: 1,059Net 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.

#5 – University of Richmond

Richmond, Virginia


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.

The preceding list represents the top 5 colleges for students taking a gap year.

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