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Any advice on gap years?

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Lisafuller
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Any advice on gap years?

Post by Lisafuller » Sun, 20 Mar 2022 2:39 am

My daughter is fielding college offers right now but hasn’t really gotten into any of her top choices. My guess is due to her transcript- despite being from RI and taking the hardest courses offered her grades were pretty average, nothing amazing while the schools she applied to are mostly ivies/very selective liberal arts colleges. She’s asked me for advice on whether to take a gap year but frankly I’m pretty stumped. She’s been up to a lot of good since she’s graduated- taken up 3 pretty good jobs including a really nice internship, assuming she keeps this up during her gap year will her chances of acceptance go up? Or would it be better to enroll at one of her lower tier colleges for a year and transfer? She’s not too keen one the latter and frankly I don’t love the idea of spending $60K on an experience she’s not very invested in. If anyone has any thoughts or advice I’d greatly appreciate it.

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by PNGMK » Sun, 20 Mar 2022 7:51 am

I think gap years really help kids work out themselves a bit. All NS boys effectively do 2 gap years as well.
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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by malcontent » Sun, 20 Mar 2022 12:00 pm

Lisafuller wrote:
Sun, 20 Mar 2022 2:39 am
My daughter is fielding college offers right now but hasn’t really gotten into any of her top choices. My guess is due to her transcript- despite being from RI and taking the hardest courses offered her grades were pretty average, nothing amazing while the schools she applied to are mostly ivies/very selective liberal arts colleges. She’s asked me for advice on whether to take a gap year but frankly I’m pretty stumped. She’s been up to a lot of good since she’s graduated- taken up 3 pretty good jobs including a really nice internship, assuming she keeps this up during her gap year will her chances of acceptance go up? Or would it be better to enroll at one of her lower tier colleges for a year and transfer? She’s not too keen one the latter and frankly I don’t love the idea of spending $60K on an experience she’s not very invested in. If anyone has any thoughts or advice I’d greatly appreciate it.
Won’t she have a gap regardless? Classes won’t start in the US until Fall and classes here end in Nov, that is just a few months shy of a year.

I would like my daughter to experience working during her gap, even if it’s just at Starbucks or whatever - and at the same time she can learn to drive and get her license.

If she is ambitious and has the confidence, she could consider taking AP tests (these are in May each year) at a local high school in the US. From what I’ve read, this is possible - she would just be treated like a home schooled student.
Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it - Niels Bohr

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by Swn4 » Mon, 21 Mar 2022 8:19 pm

Lisafuller wrote:My daughter is fielding college offers right now but hasn’t really gotten into any of her top choices. My guess is due to her transcript- despite being from RI and taking the hardest courses offered her grades were pretty average, nothing amazing while the schools she applied to are mostly ivies/very selective liberal arts colleges. She’s asked me for advice on whether to take a gap year but frankly I’m pretty stumped. She’s been up to a lot of good since she’s graduated- taken up 3 pretty good jobs including a really nice internship, assuming she keeps this up during her gap year will her chances of acceptance go up? Or would it be better to enroll at one of her lower tier colleges for a year and transfer? She’s not too keen one the latter and frankly I don’t love the idea of spending $60K on an experience she’s not very invested in. If anyone has any thoughts or advice I’d greatly appreciate it.
I’ve been interviewing Year 1 students at NUS for the past few years and the men are much clearer in what they want to do at university compared to women because of the 2 years of NS.
However, the acceptance rates for the very selective US schools is dismally low these days and even students with stellar grades don’t get admitted to every school they apply to. It is very much like a lucky draw amongst the pool of very qualified students. It will not be easy to stand out even with a Gap Year.
In all honesty, the quality of the undergraduate education at the top 20-50 US schools will probably not differ too much academically. I’d recommend choosing a school that fits your personality & interests rather than looking at its # rank.
A friend’s daughter did not get in for Freshman year but instead got offered a guaranteed sophomore spot* at Cornell provided she maintained a certain Freshman year GPA elsewhere. Much to her Cornell Alum parents’ chagrin, she refused to transfer to Cornell because she loved her Marching band experience at Syracuse University so much.
So your daughter might find her tribe during her Freshman year elsewhere and decide that she does not want to transfer after all!

*The university some times does this to account for movements out after Freshman year.


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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by NYY1 » Tue, 22 Mar 2022 12:44 am

Hi All. I am new here but interested in this topic, as I have kids in Sec 2 and P6.

Similar to what’s mentioned above, my impression is that at the top 10-20 (or so) U.S. universities academics are not the only part of the application, but stellar academic results are still largely expected and the norm. It’s almost like academics are a given and then the kids are competing on other factors.

While there is definitely a focus on non-academic development here (good thing), given the depth of the student base it will probably still take very strong academic results if one is hoping to receive multiple offers from the most selective schools. Two JCs alone each have hundreds of kids scoring 90 at the A Levels (not to mention some of the schools with top IB results, specialised schools, and other IP JCs with a good number of kids doing very very well), and many of these probably have extremely strong records throughout.

Hence, while average scores in a top JC still mean you are doing very well (and will certainly have very good options available), the issue is that your application gets lost in the shuffle when bunched together with all of the other SG applications (or perhaps even all of the other applications from your school).

This is not to say it can’t be done if the student is able to standout in other ways, and only one offer is needed.

As for the gap year, I do think it is fine and it does give a student another go at the application process, but my gut reaction is that it is unlikely to change the odds much. Mainly, next year’s batch of applicants will be just as “loaded” as this year’s was. I would also consider whether I could secure a spot and then defer a year (i.e. have something in place and then try for the few schools I want most), or if I need to go through the whole application process again. Also, given transfers are not guaranteed or the student may just want to stick where they are, I would also want the child to think about exactly what he/she will do with the additional time.

Happy to receive any comments or corrections and interested in others’ thoughts. For those that are currently applying or waiting for results, best of luck and hope you make it through to one of the desired schools!

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by NYY1 » Tue, 22 Mar 2022 12:46 am

malcontent wrote:
Sun, 20 Mar 2022 12:00 pm
Won’t she have a gap regardless? Classes won’t start in the US until Fall and classes here end in Nov, that is just a few months shy of a year.

I would like my daughter to experience working during her gap, even if it’s just at Starbucks or whatever - and at the same time she can learn to drive and get her license.

If she is ambitious and has the confidence, she could consider taking AP tests (these are in May each year) at a local high school in the US. From what I’ve read, this is possible - she would just be treated like a home schooled student.
I do think the AP exams are a good option if one is trying to get through uni faster or take a lighter load along the way. My impression is that many kids here should have no problem with the math and science exams. One advantage of IB seems to be that you can get credit for the HL (higher level) subjects. The paradox is that I don’t think the HL subjects are pitched any higher than the H2s.

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Any advice on gap years?

Post by Swn4 » Tue, 22 Mar 2022 3:53 pm

For US schools, you get advanced credit for A levels too.


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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by malcontent » Tue, 22 Mar 2022 6:07 pm

Swn4 wrote:
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 3:53 pm
For US schools, you get advanced credit for A levels too.
True. My daughter is in the IP stream and just started JC taking PEMC (Physics, Econ, Math, Chem). She will get college credit for all of those at virtually any US university. She wants to try for a UC school, so JC is required.

I was surprised that she got an official secondary school graduation document even though she is in IP… with that, she could have gone directly to university in the US, not to the top 10-20, but with her grades, she’d have many great options starting below the top 20.

I expect consideration of SAT scores will come back in the next year or two, otherwise the college board wouldn’t be investing in this new computer based testing system.
Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it - Niels Bohr

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by NYY1 » Tue, 22 Mar 2022 6:45 pm

OK, wow. I didn't realize it was automatic at many schools. One I follow, only AP and IB are listed as automatic.

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by malcontent » Tue, 22 Mar 2022 7:36 pm

NYY1 wrote:
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 6:45 pm
OK, wow. I didn't realize it was automatic at many schools. One I follow, only AP and IB are listed as automatic.
While there are no consistent rules or policies, if a class doesn’t automatically transfer over — you can always raise the issue and get a course considered for credit. As long as it can be established that the course is reasonably equivalent to a course offered by the school, they will do their best to ensure you get the credit you deserve. Sometimes that is as easy as providing details like the course outline.

Given the thousands of higher education institutions in the US, the frequency of transfers between these schools and the lack of standardization among classes… this is an extremely common function, and they have smart folks who can make these determinations, in some case, on the spot.
Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it - Niels Bohr

Lisafuller
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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by Lisafuller » Sat, 26 Mar 2022 11:02 pm

PNGMK wrote:
Sun, 20 Mar 2022 7:51 am
I think gap years really help kids work out themselves a bit. All NS boys effectively do 2 gap years as well.
True. We had a long talk yesterday about her plans - she gave me a pretty comprehensive plan and I do feel pretty good about having her go through with it. Now she’s just wondering if she would have a better chance getting into one of her top choices as a transfer after doing a year in another college or doing her own thing for a year.

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by Lisafuller » Sat, 26 Mar 2022 11:05 pm

malcontent wrote:
Sun, 20 Mar 2022 12:00 pm
Lisafuller wrote:
Sun, 20 Mar 2022 2:39 am
My daughter is fielding college offers right now but hasn’t really gotten into any of her top choices. My guess is due to her transcript- despite being from RI and taking the hardest courses offered her grades were pretty average, nothing amazing while the schools she applied to are mostly ivies/very selective liberal arts colleges. She’s asked me for advice on whether to take a gap year but frankly I’m pretty stumped. She’s been up to a lot of good since she’s graduated- taken up 3 pretty good jobs including a really nice internship, assuming she keeps this up during her gap year will her chances of acceptance go up? Or would it be better to enroll at one of her lower tier colleges for a year and transfer? She’s not too keen one the latter and frankly I don’t love the idea of spending $60K on an experience she’s not very invested in. If anyone has any thoughts or advice I’d greatly appreciate it.
Won’t she have a gap regardless? Classes won’t start in the US until Fall and classes here end in Nov, that is just a few months shy of a year.

I would like my daughter to experience working during her gap, even if it’s just at Starbucks or whatever - and at the same time she can learn to drive and get her license.

If she is ambitious and has the confidence, she could consider taking AP tests (these are in May each year) at a local high school in the US. From what I’ve read, this is possible - she would just be treated like a home schooled student.
She’s spent her time thus far pretty productively - doing an internship, tutoring in her free time. I’m not sure how she should go about taking AP tests, would that offer her any advantage? Or just do the job of improving her transcript?

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by Lisafuller » Sat, 26 Mar 2022 11:09 pm

Swn4 wrote:
Mon, 21 Mar 2022 8:19 pm
Lisafuller wrote:My daughter is fielding college offers right now but hasn’t really gotten into any of her top choices. My guess is due to her transcript- despite being from RI and taking the hardest courses offered her grades were pretty average, nothing amazing while the schools she applied to are mostly ivies/very selective liberal arts colleges. She’s asked me for advice on whether to take a gap year but frankly I’m pretty stumped. She’s been up to a lot of good since she’s graduated- taken up 3 pretty good jobs including a really nice internship, assuming she keeps this up during her gap year will her chances of acceptance go up? Or would it be better to enroll at one of her lower tier colleges for a year and transfer? She’s not too keen one the latter and frankly I don’t love the idea of spending $60K on an experience she’s not very invested in. If anyone has any thoughts or advice I’d greatly appreciate it.
I’ve been interviewing Year 1 students at NUS for the past few years and the men are much clearer in what they want to do at university compared to women because of the 2 years of NS.
However, the acceptance rates for the very selective US schools is dismally low these days and even students with stellar grades don’t get admitted to every school they apply to. It is very much like a lucky draw amongst the pool of very qualified students. It will not be easy to stand out even with a Gap Year.
In all honesty, the quality of the undergraduate education at the top 20-50 US schools will probably not differ too much academically. I’d recommend choosing a school that fits your personality & interests rather than looking at its # rank.
A friend’s daughter did not get in for Freshman year but instead got offered a guaranteed sophomore spot* at Cornell provided she maintained a certain Freshman year GPA elsewhere. Much to her Cornell Alum parents’ chagrin, she refused to transfer to Cornell because she loved her Marching band experience at Syracuse University so much.
So your daughter might find her tribe during her Freshman year elsewhere and decide that she does not want to transfer after all!

*The university some times does this to account for movements out after Freshman year.


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Wow! My daughter is actually incredibly keen on Syracuse, she got in a couple days ago and has been seriously considering attending. I’ve never heard of an ivy offering sophomore admission though… is that common?

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by Lisafuller » Sat, 26 Mar 2022 11:11 pm

NYY1 wrote:
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 12:44 am
Hi All. I am new here but interested in this topic, as I have kids in Sec 2 and P6.

Similar to what’s mentioned above, my impression is that at the top 10-20 (or so) U.S. universities academics are not the only part of the application, but stellar academic results are still largely expected and the norm. It’s almost like academics are a given and then the kids are competing on other factors.

While there is definitely a focus on non-academic development here (good thing), given the depth of the student base it will probably still take very strong academic results if one is hoping to receive multiple offers from the most selective schools. Two JCs alone each have hundreds of kids scoring 90 at the A Levels (not to mention some of the schools with top IB results, specialised schools, and other IP JCs with a good number of kids doing very very well), and many of these probably have extremely strong records throughout.

Hence, while average scores in a top JC still mean you are doing very well (and will certainly have very good options available), the issue is that your application gets lost in the shuffle when bunched together with all of the other SG applications (or perhaps even all of the other applications from your school).

This is not to say it can’t be done if the student is able to standout in other ways, and only one offer is needed.

As for the gap year, I do think it is fine and it does give a student another go at the application process, but my gut reaction is that it is unlikely to change the odds much. Mainly, next year’s batch of applicants will be just as “loaded” as this year’s was. I would also consider whether I could secure a spot and then defer a year (i.e. have something in place and then try for the few schools I want most), or if I need to go through the whole application process again. Also, given transfers are not guaranteed or the student may just want to stick where they are, I would also want the child to think about exactly what he/she will do with the additional time.

Happy to receive any comments or corrections and interested in others’ thoughts. For those that are currently applying or waiting for results, best of luck and hope you make it through to one of the desired schools!
Do you think, then, that her odds are better as a transfer applicant than a gap year applicant?

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Re: Any advice on gap years?

Post by Lisafuller » Sat, 26 Mar 2022 11:12 pm

NYY1 wrote:
Tue, 22 Mar 2022 12:46 am
malcontent wrote:
Sun, 20 Mar 2022 12:00 pm
Won’t she have a gap regardless? Classes won’t start in the US until Fall and classes here end in Nov, that is just a few months shy of a year.

I would like my daughter to experience working during her gap, even if it’s just at Starbucks or whatever - and at the same time she can learn to drive and get her license.

If she is ambitious and has the confidence, she could consider taking AP tests (these are in May each year) at a local high school in the US. From what I’ve read, this is possible - she would just be treated like a home schooled student.
I do think the AP exams are a good option if one is trying to get through uni faster or take a lighter load along the way. My impression is that many kids here should have no problem with the math and science exams. One advantage of IB seems to be that you can get credit for the HL (higher level) subjects. The paradox is that I don’t think the HL subjects are pitched any higher than the H2s.
Do you know how one could go about taking the AP exams? Would this even offer her any advantage?

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