I'm a sophomore at a public university in the U.S. I'm thinking of taking a year off before my junior year, but I'm worried I'll have to explain the gap in my transcript when I apply to math grad school down the road. How concerned do I need to be about this?
The real reason I don't want to "go back" to school in the fall is that an online experience doesn't appeal to me at all. My home environment is a bit difficult and I think I'll have a miserable year overall. I expect I can still get decent grades, but I'd much rather have had four good years on campus, even if that means I have to graduate a year late.
Essentially, I'd like an answer to tell me how admission committees usually view gaps in transcripts and try to give me an idea of how this might play out for someone who voluntarily leaves college for a year because of classes being online. Some more specific questions that have crossed my mind are the following:
Do application forms explicitly ask you to address gaps in your transcript? If not, is there an expectation that applicants will explain these anyway?
Will an explanation like "I didn't want to take classes online for a year" fly? While my home environment is also a factor here, I would be really embarrassed to bring that up in an application.
How important is it that I have something to put on my resumé for the coming year? What I'd really like to do is a lot of reading on my own in math. But if it's something that would make a significant difference to my application, I could try to find work instead. (I don't really expect I'll get anything beyond a typical low-wage unskilled position, assuming it's even possible to find jobs. Failing that, would volunteering be taken seriously?)
Would expectations of progress in math be higher for someone who has a year-long gap in his transcript and has therefore had five years to graduate?
If it makes a difference, right now my impression is that I could probably be competitive for a spot at a top-ten school.
If it's felt that my question doesn't fit with the site rules, I'd appreciate advice on how to improve it.