With so many colleges and universities still unsure whether they’ll be able to engage in face to face classes in the fall of 2020, many would-be students are considering the possibility of a Coronavirus gap year between high school and higher ed. The truth is, this makes a lot of sense for many people.
Taking a gap year is a long-standing tradition for many students from outside the U.S. In fact, according to research conducted by the Gap Year Association, “98 percent of students who took a gap year said their gap year helped them develop as a person and 97 percent said it allowed them time for personal reflection.”
Considering the pros and cons of a 2020 gap year will hopefully make the decision a little bit clearer for many students in these unprecedented times. It’s a tough decision, so best to weigh all the options before making it.
Higher education is expensive, and that expense can be hard to justify for virtual classes and decreased contact with both instructors and peers.
The so-called “College Experience” includes a lot more than just coursework, of course. Aside from courses being virtual, students enrolling for the fall will also miss out on so many of the extracurriculars that help make for a meaningful experience. Currently, most sports are cancelled, as are various student organization meetings and even Greek life.
The culture of a university or college is hard to experience fully from a zoom classroom or online chats, and you just simply may not be getting your time and money’s worth from online-only higher education. Taking a gap year now can help reduce financial stress down the line, and you can return to classes and campus life in person, the following year.
Many believe that taking a year off makes people less likely to return to schooling.
The truth is, sometimes life does happen during a gap year, which makes it harder to re-enroll. If you are lucky enough to find a great source of employment for the year, for example, it may be hard to give that up in a year to transition into “broke college student life.” Working full time and doing coursework is challenging, at best, and certainly not for everyone. Be aware that this could be a decision you face down the line if taking a gap year now. Are you willing to risk not going back to school later?
Students can use their gap year to learn new skills and better evaluate their priorities (not to mention keep an eye on the economy before choosing a field to pursue).
With travel being severely restricted due to Coronavirus, many are choosing to spend their gap year closer to home. Rather than actual travel, many plan to learn new skills, gain experience in something new, or even volunteer in their communities.
Research published in The Journal of Higher Education actually shows that students who take a gap year and use it meaningfully, achieve greater success when returning to school, which is great news. Whatever fills your gap year, make sure it includes something that fosters personal or professional growth, and it won’t be wasted.
Travel is severely restricted due to Coronavirus.
For many students, the appeal of a gap year also involves some kind of exciting travel to a new place. If you were hoping to spend your gap year visiting all the national parks or island hopping in the Mediterranean, be aware that those simply might not be possibilities in the midst of a pandemic.