Yes. Students admitted in the Early Action and Regular Decision rounds can choose to defer their admission by selecting the "I defer" option in their admitted student reply form.
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 years are also considered for such purposes as military or religious service or under other unique circumstances, and subject to the approval of the admissions committee.
Each year, between 90 and 130 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. Read more about taking time off.
If a student has already replied as enrolling, but has since changed their mind and would like to defer, they may contact the Admissions Office or submit the Request to Defer form on the Admitted Students Website explaining the request for a deferral as soon as possible and in any event by the end of June.