Is A Gap Year The Right Thing?

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Written by Jean Hsu

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone across the globe is learning to stay flexible given any long-term plans. This unprecedented situation has especially left many of our students, parents, and teachers feeling anxious about meeting application requirements, moving to an unknown campus, or starting college studies online. 

In light of this, some students have even decided to defer their college enrollment until a safer time prevails that might offer them a more holistic college experience. If you are one of those who has decided to take a gap year, what are some things that you can do to make sure you are ready when you are able to go back to school?

Here are some thoughts.

  1. Find an internship

Internships, even online, can help our students stay productive in the midst of unpredictable change and explore specific passions.

Additionally, working internships, paying or not, will provide similar environments to a college campus for developing lasting working relationships. These can also be vital for future networking purposes!

  1. Volunteer

Giving back can be a rewarding activity with multiple benefits. Even though most in-person volunteering opportunities require social distancing, there are still options for community service—including virtual volunteering.

Collecting and organizing donations for local organizations, helping others with virtual communication technology, or navigating delivery options can additionally help build critical bridges within your local communities.

  1. Start a community improvement project

In the midst of this pandemic, many people have begun to view the notion of “community” differently. 

With a greater number of people out of work, working from home, or going to school virtually, our physical community may look very different. Parks are empty and outdoor activities may not be the same in unkept spaces. Students might want to consider launching a community improvement project to address these issues.

Starting a project to maintain community assets can help students develop budgeting, time-management, and deadline-meeting skills, which can help them adjust to on-campus life more easily after gap year.

  1. Study courses online and not necessarily for credit

The biggest worry with taking a gap year for most students is re-adjusting to the rigors of studying, classroom learning, and homework. 

The best way to combat this is to take a course online or with independent study. The material doesn’t have to be academically credit based, but even taking a course in a foreign language or personal interest topics can help to maintain the habit of learning and discipline for studying.

Check out MIT’s Open Courseware, for example, or Coursera, Udemy, and EdX.

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