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Taking a Gap Year

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We are supportive of first-year students intending to take a gap year, and flexible as to the format that a gap year takes. Students who wish to take a gap year should submit a gap year request form after they have enrolled at Whitman. 

Some students know that they plan on taking a gap year before they even apply to colleges, while some decide after they’ve been admitted to colleges or even after they’ve chosen a school. Regardless of when you decide, we are happy to work with you! 

To request a gap year, you must first enroll at Whitman by submitting your deposit . Afterwards, you may fill out the Gap Year Request form linked in your applicant portal at any time. You will then receive notification of deferral and learn more about your new enrollment timeline as a gap year student. Even if you indicated in your Common App that you wish to take a gap year, please remember that you must still follow up to confirm these intentions after you have officially enrolled at Whitman. 

For housing purposes, it is helpful for us to know your intention to defer your enrollment by July. However, we have a flexible approach to gap years and we are always happy to work with you.

Our Partnership with Tilting Futures

We encourage incoming students to gain valuable global skills and experience before arriving on campus and are excited to partner with Tilting Futures to help provide this option for students. We will grant deferral to any admitted student who enrolls with Tilting Futures. Here’s more about the program offering:

Tilting Futures offers Take Action Lab, an immersive learning program where students learn how to create a meaningful impact on human rights issues during a semester in South Africa. Students expand their global perspective and sense of purpose through a research-backed curriculum, cultural immersion experiences, and apprenticeships with organizations advancing human rights issues. They make friends and mentors for life and graduate into a community of changemakers from across the world. With Take Action Lab, students develop the skills, network, and insights they need to lead fulfilling lives that create positive change.

If you are interested in applying for this opportunity, please consult Tilting Futures’ admissions page for application materials and upcoming deadlines.

More Gap Year Opportunities

There are many other gap year programs to choose from, by no means limited to this list. You do not need to confirm your participation in any gap year programs to have your gap year request to Whitman approved.

Gap Year FAQs

Taking a year off before starting college is a big decision, and it’s not right for everyone, but Whitman students who take gap years tend to have very positive experiences and report feeling even more ready to start at Whitman after completing their gap year. In our experience, the best gap years provide students with opportunities to expand on existing passions, explore new areas of interest, or gain real-world experience. It can also be a good opportunity to build a student’s academic strengths to set them up for a Whitman education.

Ultimately, it’s a personal decision, but Whitman is supportive of students who choose to take a gap year and we definitely think it’s worth considering if you think you would benefit from a break before starting your college journey.

To request a gap year, you must first officially confirm your intention to enroll at Whitman by submitting your enrollment deposit. Once your deposit has been received, your applicant portal will have a link to Whitman’s Gap Year Request form in the “Forms” section. Once you submit that form, you will hear back from Whitman within two weeks to confirm that you have officially been approved for a deferral (nearly all requests are approved).

Please note that even if you indicated on your application that you wish to take a gap year, you must still submit the Gap Year Request form to be officially approved for a gap year.

It is helpful for us to know your intention to defer your enrollment by July 1. This allows us to avoid placing you in housing and assigning an academic advisor. That said, we have a flexible approach and we are always happy to work with you if you decide later in the summer that a gap year is right for you.

Whitman does not currently allow gap semesters for first-year students; first-year students can only request a full gap year. Transfer applicants are allowed to defer admission for just a semester.

While the standard deferral is for one year, Whitman has granted multiple year deferrals for special situations, such as religious or military service, reasons relating to health and wellness, and issues with obtaining student visas. If you would like to pursue a multiple year deferral, indicate this in your gap year request and we will work with you to understand your situation and accommodate you if possible.

In most years between 25-40 incoming students took a gap year. Given Whitman’s typical incoming class size of 400-500 students, this means around 6-10% of Whitman students take gap years.

There are so many great options for your gap year! In the past, Whitties have participated in a variety of wonderful gap year programs previously, such as City Year, Dynamy, English-Speaking Union, Global Citizen Year, NOLS. Outward Bound, Rustic Pathways, Where There Be Dragons (and many more!). Many of these programs have generous scholarships available. Other Whitties have chosen to take a year off to work and save money for college. And others have forged their own path, for instance by combining community college classes with independent travel and learning a new language.

More than anything else, we want your gap year to help you develop your interests and passion in ways that will make you even better prepared for college life, so as long as you plan with that in mind you’ll be in good shape!

Yes, Whitman will allow you to earn college credit that is transferable to Whitman during your gap year. However, please note that you should not enroll as a degree-seeking student at another college during your gap year. For example, it is perfectly acceptable for you to take a few courses at a local community college during your gap year. And you can work with our Registrar to determine which courses would transfer for credit at Whitman. It is also acceptable for you to participate in a gap year program that has partnered with an accredited university through which you could earn college credit.

What would not be okay for you to enroll as a full-time student at a university in your hometown. This would make you a transfer student, and you would need to reapply to Whitman as a transfer student, rather than as a first-year student.

If you have any questions about credit transferability, send an email to registrar@whitman.edu and they can answer any questions you have.

Any achievement awards (i.e., merit scholarships) or talent scholarships you received will automatically stay with you through your gap year. If you received need-based financial aid, you will need to reapply each year by submitting the FAFSA and CSS Profile no later than March 15. As long as your family’s financial situation doesn’t change, you can expect that your need-based aid will remain consistent throughout your time at Whitman, including during your deferral period.

Admission & Aid
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