It’s the question that’s on everybody’s mind from students to parents to school administrators. There is no simple answer. But there is certainly a lot of discussion on the topic. And it’s trending up on Google.
The Evolution of Gap Years: From Free-Thinkers to COVID-19
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why it might be trending up. First, we’ll take a look back so that we can look forward. Gap years aren’t a new concept. In fact, they’ve been around since the 1960’s when free-thinkers (now Boomers) wanted to escape the rigors of their parents’ war-torn generation. The original intention was to find peace and exchange ideas by embracing other cultures through global travel.
However, in the wake of COVID-19 and the havoc that it has wreaked on life, finances and education, the intention of the gap year has morphed. Students are (rightfully) concerned about their safety. Plus, there is some financial accounting at stake leaving students – and their parents – wondering why they should pay full-price tuition only to attend classes online from their dorms. Thus far, Princeton University is the only school that has announced a reduced tuition (10%) for the Fall semester, which, BTW, has also been shortened.
Students entering college, like much of the Class of 2020 high school, are missing out on yet another rite of passage. Graduations were virtual, proms were canceled and commitment day celebrations were mostly filtered photos with college logo stickers applied. Next, students won’t have that critical freshman experience where you become bonded to your college and invested in finishing your program there.
Gone are the crazy days of hazing and other now-forbidden rituals but there is something about that transition from child to adulthood that comes with a parent dropping you off at your new school. And poof – just like that – the shit gets real. You have to prioritize your time, make new friends, find your way around on campus and into the annals of library stacks and basement chemistry labs. Not to mention figuring out where to get caffeinated and fuel up on food that you actually like to eat.
It’s a lot of transition. Being away from home can create added anxiety for some students. Others barely notice the car door closing as they jump into their new chapter.
Some students need another year to gain maturity and perspective to ensure their planned program is aligned with what they want to do, or to develop the necessary life skills to secure high-paying jobs after graduation. Others need the year to work to save up for college. While others are lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel and experience new things as per the original intention of the gap year.
Making Your Decision: Cutting Through the Noise of Social Media and Other People
No matter what your decision is, it’s YOURS to make. Sometimes it’s hard to find clarity with all the noise from social media, friends, and family but you need to cut through all that to get to what you really want. What decision can you live with? Which one is right for you?
If you’re not quite sure and want a little coaching help getting you from confused to clear, we have a mini-course that’s quick and affordable. It guides you through the questions that you need to ask yourself. Have a look at our PRODUCTS page and see if it might be the thing that you need right now.
We’re always here. If you have questions, just ask!