Just as many U.S. colleges and universities are still trying to navigate what the fall semester will look like on their campuses, students – especially entering college freshmen – are faced with the decision to attend college in August. As high school seniors, the class of 2020, were looking forward to their first true college experience, the student life future does not look as robust as it had, prepandemic. In fact, the term “Gap Year” is picking up steam as college students (of all years) and parents are looking for a smart solution to postpone college until a Coronavirus end is in sight. The Wall Street Journal reports, the Google searches in the U.S. for the term “gap year” erupted to “180% in the last week of April...” Looking for more COVID-19 student-impact information? Find it here.With the uncertainty of the college fall season, many students and parents are asking: What is a gap year? Does the Centers for Disease Control have any recommendations for college students this fall? Should I stay home or attend school this fall? Why have I never heard of the gap year before?Prior to the pandemic, some Americans were introduced to the gap year concept via President Obama and Mrs. Obama’s daughter, Malia. According to The Atlantic, Malia chose to take a gap year in 2016 prior to attending Harvard University in the fall of 2017. The gap year is thought to have started in European countries. It’s not a well-known or popular concept, until now. Pre-COVID, a majority of college-bound students would consider a gap year, a luxurious solution they couldn’t afford. Today, the gap year is undergoing a pandemic-influenced rebrand. An Intelligencer article points to higher-education research by Simpson Scarborouh, “...12 percent of high-school seniors are thinking they’ll take a gap year, as opposed to the normal 3 percent.” The gap year has changed into a Year of Purpose; an intentional, higher education pause during a time of uncertainty. Even better, this year of purpose can be very productive, and if planned correctly your year of purpose can be valuable.
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