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Should I Defer Admission or Take a Leave of Absence?

Last updated May 10, 2021

Have your circumstances changed over the past year due to the pandemic? Do you need to take a temporary pause on your college journey to focus on your family, finances, or yourself? Don’t worry! You’ve got options. Deferring your admission to college or taking a leave of absence can grant you the flexibility to take needed time for yourself without giving up your place at your college. Here’s the difference between deferring admission and taking a leave of absence, why you might consider them, and how to keep the momentum going to return to school and finish your degree!

Deferring Admission

Deferring your admission to college means accepting your offer letter to attend school, and then requesting an extended period of time off (usually to take a gap year) before starting. During gap years, students do not attend school, and often travel or work. Gap years are a great way to prioritize your goals, try something new, or, during Covid-19, save money.

If you were going to start college this year but need some time off before starting, you’ll want to consider deferring your admission. You must accept your offer of admission first before you request to defer it! This way, they’ll hold your spot for you, and in most cases you will not have to re-apply when you’re ready to start college.

Here are some important things to ask your university admissions office before you defer your acceptance:

  1. When is the deadline to defer?
  2. Will deferring affect my financial aid package?
  3. Will I need to document my time spent away from school?
  4. What will I need to start school next year?

Leave of Absence

Students who are already attending college and need to to take some time off can take a voluntary leave of absence. During a leave of absence, students are not enrolled in any classes, but are still considered students of their school. Much like deferring admission to take a gap year, a leave of absence is also a good time to learn more about yourself, save some money, and plan your future.

If you are considering taking a leave of absence, here are some important things to ask your university admissions office:

  1. How often do I need to update you about when I plan to return?
  2. Will I need to re-apply for admission when I’m ready to return?
  3. Will I have to pay back the financial aid I’ve already received for the quarter/semester?
  4. What will show up on my transcripts while I’m not in school (an “incomplete” or “withdrawal from classes”)?

It’s important to keep busy and continue making progress toward your goals during your time away from school. We know it can be easy to lose momentum, which is why we’ve made a list of 5 effective things you can do during a gap year or leave of absence to stay on track!

You can also check out our list of free mental health resources for college students, as well as a list of general resources in your area in response to Covid-19.

Finishing college is tough, but it’s also an incredible journey to see all the way through. We’re here for you! 

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