OPINION: Taking a gap year more valuable now than ever before

By Sofia Bellafiore

This year has opened the eyes of students looking to go to a four-year university because the Covid-19 pandemic has put a hold on college life.  The idea of a gap year is not looked down upon nearly as much as it has been in the past.  Partaking in a gap year can be looked on as bad if the students are not engaging in anything productive or using that time to grow as an individual.  However, the opportunity can be great if students are doing things like traveling, volunteering, or working on their personal growth.

An article from US News discussed how students are “signing up for a structured gap year program or sitting out of the school year until in-person classes resume.”  

Many are realizing that it is a waste of money to spend so much when a university will not be fully opened.  Some universities are only having their students do school online, so instead, students are partaking in community college for their first year.  

This past year has caused students graduating high school to become lazy and unmotivated.  The college universities that are on pause due to covid are making it known that a gap year should be used for beneficial purposes only.  Although the pandemic has been a huge stressor on student’s lives, it is not a good idea to give up future plans.

“‘Fundamentally, I hope families don’t think of a Gap experience as an alternative to college but one that better prepares (certain) students for the university experience,’ Greg Zaiser, vice president for enrollment at Elon University in North Carolina, wrote in an email.”

The purpose of a gap year is not to dismiss college; the purpose is to gather your thoughts and take control of academic success.  The Covid-19 pandemic has made everything unpredictable so this is unknown territory for all students and teachers in the United States. 

Some people get the impression that partaking in a gap year means students will not be productive and it will be a waste of time.  There are actually programs that can guide students who are unsure of how to navigate through their gap year before college. 

“For high school students or graduates considering a gap year, the options are plentiful and can be structured programs or self-guided. The Gap Year Association, which accredits numerous programs, lists a wide range of options on its website, including experiences with a focus on ecology, animal welfare and conservation, language studies, coding, cultural immersion, and a variety of other topics.”

For the students who are unsure of how to spend their time after high school, there are programs to guide them just like attending a university right away.  As a result of this, students find themselves and learn how they can personally make an impact on the world.  Overall, this matures students and helps to better prepare them for college. 

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