We recently wrote about how more students will be taking gap years this coming year than ever before. We also wrote about how the percentage of students who will be taking gap years is also likely a bit overblown by the media. Students need something to do. Even if college campuses are closed this coming fall, we project that the vast majority of students are going to turn to online coursework offered by these colleges. But what if — hypothetically — so many students choose to take gap years…will colleges change their policies and make this move more difficult? Let’s take a look at the messaging from Dartmouth College as an example.
Gap Year Figure Will Likely Be Up at Dartmouth and All Highly Selective Colleges
As Reilly Olinger reports for The Dartmouth in a piece entitled “Class of ’24 decides on Dartmouth remotely, considers gap years,” “The possibility of a remote fall term has led some members of the Class of 2024 to consider taking gap years that they did not originally intend to take. Although the deadline for gap year applications is June 1, dean of admissions and financial aid Lee Coffin said that this deadline will be ‘elastic’ for students whose academic plans are contingent on the nature of the fall term. ‘I can’t imagine that we won’t be responsive to students that step forward and say, ‘This isn’t what I wanted,” Coffin said.”
“Coffin also said that the admissions office is trying to determine what will happen in the case that a greater than average number of students from the Class of 2024 choose to take gap years. ‘A typical freshman class would be 1,150 [students], so if people [take a gap year] from ’24 into ’25, we’re not going to add to that class,’ Coffin said. ‘So I think that’s the big question from students and guidance counselors … We don’t know what’s going to happen.'”
Dartmouth Will Not Expand Class of 2025 Irrespective of Gap Year Figure
So there you have it: right from the horse’s mouth, Dartmouth’s dean of admissions and financial aid. Dartmouth has no intention of expanding the class size of the Class of 2025 just because lots of students from the Class of 2024 choose to defer their admission by a year in light of the pandemic. This means that these students from the Class of 2024 will take away seats from applicants to the Class of 2025. There will thus be fewer available slots in next year’s class since some will be reserved for last year’s candidates who opted for gap years.
This declaration by Dartmouth’s dean, of course, should come as no surprise. Colleges simply don’t have room to significantly expand the size of their incoming classes. And while there is signifiant fallout from this pandemic, these colleges don’t wish to — and likely won’t — allow the pandemic to influence the next several admissions cycles. It just might be the Class of 2025 that pays the price with fewer available seats. That being said, as Dartmouth’s dean of admissions and financial aid suggests, there also may be fewer applicants to next year’s class at all colleges if they can’t conduct tours, information sessions, high school visits, and more. Only time will tell!
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