Bob Clagett

Answers to Your Questions on a Gap Year

Our gap year experts, Bob Clagett and Holly Bull, return with answers to your questions. You can see their previous posts with information on choosing a gap year program and how to apply for a gap year, including resources, here and here.

What tips do you have for students who are hoping to pursue a gap year, but don't necessarily want to do a program? I know there are organizations like WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) where students can work independently and safely across the globe, but are there other ways to connect with far-away places without traveling with a group of American teens?

A Gap Year: How to Choose the Right Program

Holly Bull, president of Interim, an independent gap year counseling service, joins us today to talk more about the value of a gap year and how to choose the right program. Join her here for more information about cost, safety and outcomes, including resources for further research. 

I took two gap years -- one before and one during college. So I am, admittedly, biased in favor of taking gap time. And for the past twenty-three years, I have counseled over a thousand students through the gap-year process at the Center for Interim Programs. From a personal and professional vantage point, I am convinced that the gap-year option needs to be woven more universally into the formal educational process.

When Interim was founded in 1980, it was the first gap-year counseling organization of its kind and there was very little awareness of the gap year or much support for it as an option. In the United Kingdom, on the other hand, it was in full swing and it has been gratifying to witness what started as a novel idea for Americans become a trend and now a solid movement over the past thirty-three years. We are at a point where many colleges are recognizing that gap-year students are highly desirable to have on campus given their maturity, focus, and leadership skills. And future employers value the practical job skills these students already have in place.

Bob Clagett on Taking a Gap Year


Taking a "gap year" -- deferring enrollment for a year once you have been admitted to the school you plan to attend -- is a choice more and more colleges are encouraging. Bob Clagett is the former dean at Middlebury College, which provides the opportunity for students to pursue a semester off and enroll in February. He joins us today to talk about why a gap year can be a good idea, the opportunities that exist for students, and the outcomes -- students who take a gap year have higher grades!


Mr. Clagett has also agreed to answer reader's questions about a gap year. Please submit your question in the comment box below or email us at We'll run Mr. Clagett's answers on the blog next week.


During almost 30 years of admissions work at Harvard and Middlebury, I saw plenty of students arrive on campus ready and eager to get started.  But every year I also saw a few who seemed unengaged, with a slightly dazed look in their eyes, as if they had just stepped off a wild roller coaster ride.


Admission: The Movie

Check out the latest trailer for Admission, an upcoming movie starring Tina Fey in the role of a Princeton University admission officer. Admission is based on the book of the same name by Jean Hanff Korelitz, who has said she has had a college admission fixation since she was rejected by Yale in the late '70s. In researching her book, she worked part-time in admissions at Princeton for two years. But the key to Fey's character Portia came to her in a conversation with former Middlebury College dean Bob Clagett. According to Korelitz, "... it took an interview with Bob Clagett, Dean of Admissions at Middlebury College, to give me my first real insight into the character who would become Portia. Was there, I asked Dean Clagett, a personality type you tend to see in people who chose to work in college admissions? I’m not sure what I expected. Judgmental? Bossy? Sadistic? But whatever it was, his actual answer was utterly arresting. He said: 'We’re all such do-gooders.'" The book is terrific. The movie opens on March 8.