While taking a gap year is popular among students in European countries, the United States has only seen increased interest lately. When universities announced that they will give students different options for learning in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, students were met with confusion. Some didn’t think that it was worth it to spend an entire semester paying to sit in front of their desktop at home. Several students decided to sit the whole academic year out.
Reasons Students Took a Gap Year in 2021
While the pandemic was the primary catalyst for students taking a gap year, students took the year off for many reasons. Here are some of them:
Some Students Cannot Afford to Pay Tuition Anymore
When some colleges decided to shift online last year, many students criticized this decision as tuition costs stayed the same. This forced students to skip the year and wait for when it’s safe to return to in-person classes. Many families in the United States were affected economically because of the pandemic. Most people think of learning yoga in India or teaching kids in Peru when they think of a gap year. But for the year 2021, economic certainty is one of the reasons for skipping the school year.
Online Learning Is Not for Everyone
Gap Year Association, a nonprofit group that focuses on gap year opportunities and advice, said that the number of students who took a gap year in 2021 went up to 400,000. Typically, the United States sees only 4,000 students taking a gap year before the pandemic happened.
At the same time, the sudden shift to online learning posed several challenges for students, according to Purdue Global University. The advantage of online learning included flexibility for students. They can take their classes on any device that is capable of connecting to the internet. At the same time, they did not need to move to attend classes physically.
However, one of the challenges of online learning is that a student should have a certain degree of proficiency in technology. Most students nowadays are tech-literate, but the problem is that not everyone has access to the same equipment and internet.
The Pandemic Has Negative Effects on Students’ Mental Health
Mental health was also a big consideration when it came to students’ decisions in the past year. The feeling of isolation and anxiety about the pandemic did not mix with adjusting to online school.
Reasons to Take a Gap Year in 2022
People have thought that taking a gap year is only for the wealthy and the privileged for so long. But because of the trying times that the whole world is still under right now, it can be a productive move to take some time off before moving on with your educational and career plans. The schools are open again, so the reasons might not be applicable anymore. However, here are a few reasons you should consider taking a gap year in 2022:
To Calculate Future Actions Better
Many industries were forced to close because of COVID-19. At the same time, the world saw the rise of new sectors to answer the unprecedented needs of people in the middle of the pandemic. These new industries are here to stay.
You might be thinking of making a shift in your education toward these new industries. For example, remote learning is here to stay. The field of education is no longer limited to the four corners of the classroom. There are services now that bring remote education to workplaces, the out-of-school population, and the underprivileged.
Taking a gap year will help you find your true passion and purpose in life. You might realize you are a better fit for a completely different career than what you had initially thought of.
To Earn Academic Credits or Gain Independence
You don’t have to apply to gap year programs when you decide to skip school. You are free to explore your options according to your preferences and economic capacity. Flying overseas is not the only option.
You can take a part-time job while earning certificates in programming from free online programs. You can use this time to beef up your portfolio or your resume.
Structuring Your Gap Year to Be Productive
The key to a productive gap year is proper planning. You can divide your entire gap year according to the activities you want to try. Spend the first three months working on a job. When you have saved enough, you can consider traveling for a few months. And then, find volunteer opportunities back home or somewhere else. If you plan to decorate your curriculum vitae with experience, look for research positions or internships. Again, everything is up to you.
Although many people still believe gap years are for the privileged few, taking a gap year might be a great idea. You can regroup, rethink your career path, and gain experience elsewhere as you wait for in-person classes to return. What matters most is you plan ahead and take everything in stride.