Time Out

Gap Years on the Rise amidst a Pandemic

Time+Out

EdSurge

Benjamin Green, Reporting Journalist

2020, the year of the pandemic, has continued to affect all aspects of society. Thus, COVID has consistently affected the college decision process for last year’s graduating class. Most schools are not teaching in person therefore effectively ruining the first year college experience. Even though there isn’t much to do and most students are attending their college virtually, many college-aged students have decided to take a different route.

A gap year is when a college-aged student takes a year off in between high school graduation and their first year of college to either work or experience the real world. This decision is usually uncommon but because of the pandemic, many more students are deciding to take this route. Because of the many adaptations that colleges are making because of the pandemic, these students do not want their college experience affected, which led them to the decision to take a gap year. 

The pandemic has been the real reason for the increase in gap year students. According to a survey by EdSurge, 40% of all students nationwide are seriously considering deferring and taking a gap year while 20% of first year students at Harvard this year have decided to defer, 3 times the normal amount. 

Joe Sheets 20’, last year’s student council President, decided to take a gap year in between his time at Salesianum and his first year at Columbia. “COVID was actually the reason I started thinking about taking a gap year. I decided to take one because financially it made the most sense for my family. I also wanted to ensure that I would have 4 years of college experience and 4 years of baseball in college,” he said. “When the opportunity arose, I was able to see the many different learning experiences I would be able to take advantage of during my year off.” 

During his gap year, Joe is working two internships: one with a credit card consulting firm and one with an insurance agency. He also waits tables at Brandywine Brewing Company. Even though Joe is doing very well during his gap year, others may not reap the benefits gap years provide.

“Of course there can be some downsides of taking a gap year. Some students who take a gap year get comfortable being out of school and don’t want to return. Others don’t take advantage of the opportunities they have from taking a gap year,” said Joe Sheets. Taking a gap year is not for every student as Joe says. Students should carefully weigh out all options before making the decision. 

The pandemic has completely changed the normal throughout the world. It has affected every piece of life, including the college process. Like Joe, COVID made many incoming college students make that decision to take a gap year. Even though there are some potential pitfalls of taking a gap year, many students use it effectively to generate some real world skills and knowledge.