2020 is arguably one of the worst years in recent times, but it is proving to be even harder for students who've been forced to put their education on hold amidst the ongoing pandemic. International college students in the USA have even faced the threat of having to leave the country if classes are moved online next semester.
Amidst the ongoing debate among lawmakers about reopening universities and colleges, recent high school graduates are contemplating putting off higher education until it's safe to return to campuses.
Given the current socio-economic environment, families are also finding it hard to fund their kids' college education, making the need of taking a gap year even more imminent. But taking a year off isn't necessarily a bad thing, according to some experts.
In fact, gap years have become increasingly popular among recent high school graduates who want to take some time off to gain experiences outside the classroom. Even Malia Obama, the daughter of former President Barack Obama, took a year off before enrolling at Harvard University.
Recent studies have presented strong evidence that students who took a gap year were more likely to achieve academic success and were better prepared for the life that awaited them after graduation.
Taking some time off from school to travel or partake in volunteer activities can help prospective students gain more insight into the career they want to pursue. This can also open doors of opportunities and internships as well as building networks that can be useful for finding jobs after getting a college degree.
There are several accredited programs that allow young high school graduates to gain valuable work and travel experience during their gap year, however, with the ongoing pandemic, such options have been severely limited.
To make matters even worse, many universities have rolled out new tuition fee structures for online classes which are eerily similar to what students were paying before. Harvard, for example, is charging $54,000 per year and upwards for its online Fall courses, making many students reconsider the worth of higher education.
If you opt for a gap year under the current circumstances, your chances of traveling or finding international volunteer opportunities will be severely limited. Experts recommend finding jobs and internships in your area and using your free time to learn a new skill through online courses to make the most out of this difficult situation.