What Is A Gap Year And Why Is It A Good Idea?

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You’re probably used to reading and talking about back-to-school plans during summertime. What once was a time to engage in conversations about how you’ll pay for tuition and where you’re going to college has become a time with an increased focus on the idea of taking a gap year. What is a gap year and why is there so much talk about it now?


If you know about options like a gap year and online education, then it will make sense why a pandemic has brought these ideas into the spotlight. We’ll take a look at what it means to take a gap year, the impact of COVID-19, and other alternative ways to spend the next year benefitting yourself.



Girl volunteering during a gap year
Photo by Anna Earl on Unsplash



What is a Gap Year?

A gap year is a year (or semester) where a student takes a break from school for experiential learning.


Gap years tend to be taken upon high school graduation before a student enrolls in an institution for higher education or gets a job. A gap year may also be taken between undergraduate and graduate degrees.



Why Do People Take Gap Years?

There are many reasons why students take a gap year, including: to overcome burnout from semesters of schooling, acting on the desire to learn more about oneself, to support independent growth, finding one’s passion, stepping out of one’s comfort zone, or taking necessary time to prepare for the future without diving right in.


No matter the reason why you choose to take a gap year, you will undoubtedly gain a lot from the experience that can serve you throughout your life.



The Impact of Coronavirus on Gap Years

Although there are no specific statistics to show how many students are taking a gap year at any given time, surveys have shown that high school students are more interested in taking them now.


About 12% of 1,100 high school students surveyed said they want to take a gap year (as opposed to the 3% of college freshman who typically take a gap year).


COVID-19 has ushered in a new era of education and has transformed on-campus learning to take place remotely, in many instances.


A lot of colleges have announced that they will not open in the fall for in-person classes. As such, neither students nor parents want to spend exorbitant amounts of money to pay for schooling that will take place over Zoom video calls.


Instead, if a student wants to experience an on-campus college, it may be better to wait it out because the high tuition fees won’t be worth it.


Before we jump into the alternative options to a gap year, let’s see what activities prove to be worthwhile during a gap year.



Man and woman travelling gap year coronavirus
Photo by Victor He on Unsplash



What Students Do During a Gap Year, Plus Recommendations

For some students, a gap year may result in vacation, but for most, it’s a year filled with achieving a goal. What you do in a gap year will not only affect the rest of your life, but it will likely also benefit your college application process when you’re ready to return to school.


If you’re interested in taking a gap year, consider these 6 ideas:



1. Service Year / Volunteering


Dedicate your time to giving back by volunteering. This can be done for a specific organization or as a part of a program designed for gap year students who want to volunteer.



2. Internship


If you’re already interested in a specific field of study, it’s a good idea to start gaining experience as an intern. Even if you’re unsure about your future career path, an internship is a great way to get your foot in the door and try work in a professional setting.



3. Mentorship


Working alongside a mentor or providing mentorship to a younger student is another useful way to spend your gap year. The benefits of mentorship are plenty and range from developing a strong network to building communication skills.



4. Paid Work


There’s never a downside to earning some cash! During a gap year, it (literally) pays to work as you can start to save or use the money towards your education once you’re ready to go back to school.



5. Something Creative / A Break


Burnout is real. If you feel like you just need a break or want to work on a creative project, a gap year provides you with the time to focus on your own personal endeavours.



6. Learn Online for Free and Boost Skills!


Looking to earn a degree part-time while also working on your creative hustle or at a full-time job? Online degrees or certificate programs are always available and can be completed based on a flexible schedule.



Video conference call for online school
Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash



Alternative to a Gap Year

Waiting to apply to a traditional college during the coronavirus pandemic makes a lot of sense. But, if you’re considering still applying to school and will be learning remotely, then it’s worthwhile to choose an affordable program that offers quality education!


The University of the People is a 100% online and remote learning alternative to earning your higher education degree. Even before coronavirus, the University of the People was set up as online and tuition-free to achieve the goal of providing quality, accessible, and affordable education to students from all over the world.


The goal of UoPeople is to ensure that no student is left behind owing to a variety of barriers. Our tuition-free model ensures that students do not pay fees for things like classes and books. Instead, all we request is a minimal application fee and low course assessment fees – and it’s pay-as-you-go! This means that studying with UoPeople is risk-free.


Another way that UoPeople ensures education for all is by allowing students a flexible study schedule. An enormous number of people have demanding work, family and other responsibilities that prevent them from studying. At UoPeople, as long as you have a secure internet connection, you can study from anywhere and at any time!


During your time in quarantine or even working, raising a family, or shifting your career path, you can enroll at UoPeople to earn your degree in Health Science, Computer Science, Education, or Business Administration.


If you still feel the desire to attend a traditional on-campus school once they start opening their doors down the line, then you can always transfer the units you’ve earned at our institution to the institution of your choice.


This means that you can always start earning credits at UoPeople and then attend an on-campus school later on, if you feel the need. Or, you can transfer any units you earned at an on-campus college to UoPeople and complete your degree with us.


That being said, all universities (including UoPeople) cannot guarantee that its students or their credits will be accepted by other academic institutions, since this is determined by each institution individually. If you are looking to transfer credits earned at UoPeople to another institution, students should consult and verify with the receiving institution regarding the transferability of UoPeople credits.



Endless Possibilities Await

No matter your reason for choosing to take a year off, gap year benefits are plenty.


For some students, the coronavirus pandemic has shifted their plan to attend college. Instead, they are leaning towards taking a gap year and spending the time to find growth personally or give back time to organizations that need it most. For others, online education was always the game plan and now, there are just more opportunities to enroll.


For anyone looking into online education, tuition-free options like the University of the People exist to save you a lot of money on your college education. Learn from the comfort of your home and connect with students from over 200 countries and territories in attendance from around the world!