COVID-19 has altered and affected the lives of people on the entire globe. A pandemic, the worst in over a century, has required every facet of daily life to adapt. Education has been an area, especially hard hit. Children can carry the disease without symptoms, and the risk of transmission for COVID-19 is high. So, schools across the world have closed down and switched to remote learning to provide education.

Higher learning has also had to adapt in such ways. Plenty of colleges offered online programs before the pandemic, but with campuses closing for safety, hundreds of thousands of students have found themselves taking courses entirely online. With the shift to online learning and the ability to access campus resources limited or restricted during the summer semesters, some students might question if they should take a semester, or even a year, off from their academic studies. High schoolers graduating and preparing for college may likewise ponder such a decision.

The concept of waiting a year to attend college after high school is usually referred to as a gap year, and, along with pandemic concerns, the idea has other benefits.  The most significant benefit is the chance to work to save and gain life experience before attending college. Such life experiences are often highly valued by college application programs. What career path a student plans to pursue is also a significant factor. Many careers can be followed by entering a trade school or gathering world experience. Electricians, HVAC, and the like are better studied on the job and at community colleges. It might be worth attending community college to take a few early classes and transfer them to save money.

It’s worth noting that many high school graduates may not know what they want to do after graduating or are scared that what they want to do won’t be viable in an age of rapidly advancing technology and social upheaval.

The decision to take a gap year isn’t a light one. There are undoubtedly financial reasons to consider, as well as mental health and career options. The present pandemic crisis, moreover, adds a layer of complexity to such decisions. Ultimately, it is up to the student to examine their situation and goals to determine the best choice for them. Time to reflect can be a rare commodity but is always worth it in the end.

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