It may seem like everyone goes straight from senior year of high school to their freshman year of college, but that's not always the case.

There are students who get accepted and then decide to take time off instead of heading directly to college. If you’re debating deferring acceptance, it may help to hear the stories of other students who made that decision and how they made the most of their gap year.

I Learned Life Skills

After what he calls a “grueling high school experience,” William S. decided to defer his acceptance to Stanford University for a year. During his gap year, he’s taken on a series of internships and applied for scholarships — the latter of which he admitted he “dropped the ball on” in high school. Through interning, William says he developed both personal and professional skills that will aid him in college, including computer programming, cooking, networking and time management. He feels like he will especially benefit from the time management skills. “During high school, 85 percent of my task list had been assigned to me,” he says. Now he knows how to complete self-assigned tasks and work without teacher-mandated deadlines. Mastering these skills has been empowering for him and he knows they’ll serve him well when he heads off to college.

I Earned Money

Vanessa Miranda deferred acceptance at Raritan Valley Community College so she could work for a full year to earn tuition money. “This time was actually very helpful because I realized I needed to make a lot more money just for necessities alone,” she says.  

“I realized I needed to make a lot more money just for necessities alone.”

— Vanessa Miranda

While she initially took the time off for financial reasons, Miranda credits the deferral as helping her get the most value from her education because she was able to think about her goals and reasons for going to college. Thanks to her gap year, she says, “I put in so much more effort into school than if I had gone right in, not knowing what I wanted to get out of a college education.”

I Gave Back

Nischala Bhandari, a native of Pune, India, took a year off before attending New York University because she felt lost and unsure of what to do with her life. During that time, she volunteered for the NGO Make a Difference, teaching English to underprivileged children in Pune and helping to organize the group’s volunteer recruitment efforts. She also held a part-time job as a teaching assistant and shadowed Ph.D. biology students.

“By the end of the year, I felt rejuvenated, bold and better equipped to handle whatever was to come next,” Bhandari says. “Even more, the time off made me feel more connected with myself. I made every choice with intention [and] engaged in activities with passion and curiosity.”

These students all used their time off to better prepare themselves for college. If you’re debating college acceptance deferral, be sure you have a strategy to use your gap year wisely. With the right goals and plan, taking time off before school could be a beneficial decision for your future.