As the 2019/2020 school year draws to a close around the world, it is hard to understate the vast impact that has been felt during the spread of Covid-19. As governments rushed to curb the pandemic, the closure of schools, universities and nurseries were the first safety first measures. For the students enrolled, this meant a swap of classrooms for screens and for many parents a new appreciation for the work teachers do. With the situation continuing to evolve, many questions remain over what the next year will look like and what will be the right academic decisions to make. For the 2020 high school graduates who had intended to move to university or college, one question looms large – is this the right time to take a gap year? We took some time to consider the pros and cons in an effort to help make the decision that is right for you.
What’s a Gap Year?
The concept of a gap year will be more recognisable to some than others. Traditionally it is an opportunity for young people to take a year out before continuing their academic journey to travel, study or work. More commonly adopted around the 1960s, each country has a different custom and approach to the idea. The idea is that a gap year offers not only a break from studies, but a chance to gain ‘life skills’ and maturity through programmes, volunteering and internships. A survey conducted by the Gap Year Association found that 97% of those who took a gap year reported it ‘increased their maturity’ and 96% that it ‘increased their self-confidence’.
In 2020, as many universities and colleges predict at least some, if not all, of the 2020/2021 academic year will be conducted online, more and more students are asking themselves if a gap year would be a better use of their time. So how do you make that decision?
- The opportunity for personal growth
- The chance to help others and make a difference through volunteering
- A productive delay to academic studies, particularly to potentially skip an entirely virtual first year
- An excellent way to encourage responsibility
- A way to explore new ideas and engage with new cultures
- An opportunity to discover vocational opportunities
- Part time or full time work could allow students to save money for college
- Gain experience for your resume or intern in a perspective career
- Show a more varied level of experience and personality to prospective universities or employers
- Re-take exams if needed or learn new skills or a new language via online courses
- With travel restrictions many options may still be online
- Some programmes could be expensive or beyond your budget
- Some students might not be ready for the world outside of structured education
- Lack of planning could result in wasted time
- A break in studies could mean a loss of momentum
Essentially the choice of whether or not to take a gap year largely depends on your circumstances. Are you able to find outlets during the time? Do you have the budget for any programmes you would like to do? Without the option to travel will you be able to spend your time wisely? The more productive and engaging the year can be, the more value it will give. If you are considering it, make sure you have explored what might be available and what would suit your ambitions most:
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