In ordinary times, Harvard University has made a practice of encouraging its admitted students to consider deferring admission and taking a gap year. Twenty percent of its first-year students have now taken them up on that offer—roughly three times the number that usually defer.
Harvard students aren’t the only ones doing so in a time of COVID-19. At MIT, 8 percent of students are deferring admissions—up from 1 percent in normal years. At Bates College, the number is 10 percent—nearly three times the usual rate. At Williams Colleges, roughly 25 students generally defer admission. This year, 90 did.