May I defer my admission once admitted?

Frequently Asked Questions

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Yes. We want to do everything possible to help the students we enroll make the most of their opportunities, avoiding the much reported "burnout" phenomenon that can keep them from reaching their full potential. Our overall graduation rate of 98%, among the highest in the nation, is perhaps due in part to the fact that so many students take time off, before or during college. The Admissions Committee encourages admitted students to defer enrollment for one year to travel, pursue a special project or activity, work, or spend time in another meaningful way—provided they do not enroll in a degree-granting program at another college.

Deferrals for two-year military or religious service are also granted. Each year, between 80 and 110 students defer their matriculation to the College, and they report their experiences to be uniformly positive. After graduation, large numbers of Harvard students take time off before beginning work or graduate school. See more about taking time off.