Alejandro Maldonado '22

"From working in the Conservation Corps in Utah, to operating a ski lift in Montana, and returning home to manage farms at NYC public housing residences (through Green City Force), my gap year provided a great opportunity to appreciate the importance of learning through hands-on experiences and to learn how to live independently before coming to college." Alejandro Maldonado '22

Students admitted as first-years to Pomona may apply to take a gap year (also called term of service or year of service opportunities) before matriculating. Students approved for gap years engage in a wide variety of activities that expand their understanding and perspective. While there are many compelling reasons to take a gap year, one of the most common is the opportunity for students to explore their interests and develop a purpose for their future. Students can take a break from intense coursework and focus on enriching life experiences.

Isabel Callahan '21

"Over the course of my gap year, I was able to teach at schools in Ghana and Chicago. Taking a gap year gave me a new appreciation for life captured in 'small' things like cooking food with and for others or washing clothing by hand, an appreciation that has only grown during my time at Pomona." Isabel Callahan '21 

Whether they spend the year traveling, volunteering, working, or all three, students who have completed a gap year are often revitalized for their return to the academic world the following year.

Students interested in taking a gap year should contact the Admissions Office to discuss their options, and for help deciding if applying for admission before or after a gap year makes more sense.

Deferring Enrollment

While the initial deadline of May 1st to request a deferral has passed, students enrolled in the Class of 2024 now have until July 20, 2020 to request to defer their entry to the College by one year.

Requests to defer are reviewed and approved individually by the Dean of Admissions and must be received by July 20, 2020. Requests should be emailed to Executive Assistant Gina Green at

Students who request their gap year must submit as part of their request a written plan to the Dean of Admissions by July 20 for how they will spend their gap year. Members of the Class of 2024 previously approved for a gap year earlier this spring DO NOT need to submit a new request. All current gap year approvals for the Class of 2024 will be honored.

Deferral of admission involves several requirements:

  1. Enrollment in any individual college course must be discussed with your regional admissions officer at Pomona College. Students may not enroll in a degree program.
  2. In accepting the non-refundable $500 deposit, Pomona College will guarantee the student’s place for the following academic year as a full-time freshman with the commitment that the student will enroll at Pomona and will initiate no new applications to other colleges or universities.
  3. The student must write to admissions before March 1 the following year, reconfirming intention to enroll for the fall semester. In this letter, the student will include how he or she has spent the year and plans for the remainder of the year. Upon receipt of that information, the Dean of Admissions will confirm membership in the entering class.
  4. If the student intends to apply for financial aid from Pomona College for the academic year of enrollment, he or she must contact the Office of Financial Aid by Jan. 1 the following year, regarding required financial aid forms.

What is the Dean expecting to see in a gap year request?

  1. Requests to defer are not granted automatically. Students who request a gap year must submit their written plan on or before the July 20, 2020 deadline. Late requests will only be considered for a two year deferral to Fall 2022.
  2. Typical proposals are 300-400 words in length and provide details on what you expect to do during your gap year. Some students invent their own experience and engage in several different pursuits over the course of the year. Others find a full-time internship, meaningful work experience, local service opportunity or other type of yearlong pursuit connected to a third-party organization. There is no formula. Your proposal should clearly state how your year will be structured (from September 2020 to May 2021).
  3. Some students have initial plans for the first half of the year but are still working on finalizing pursuits that will take place later on—this is acceptable. You will be expected to submit an updated document to Gina Green once plans firm up, but it is expected that you will pursue something of substance for the entire year. Proposals that leave out details for large parts of the year may not be immediately approved.
  4. Finally, we know sometimes plans change during the gap year. When unexpected issues arise it is expected that students will find solutions and consult the admissions office to ensure new/altered plans align with Pomona’s expectations of gap year students. Flexibility and grace will guide the approval of new plans when things fall through, but if changes are required it is expected that students will follow up and immediately consult the Admissions Office.