COVID19 Gap Year Information
With COVID19 uprooting so many students' plans, we recognize that gap years might be popping up on your radar, even if they haven't ever been an option before.
We want to make sure you are informed on this pathway so you can start to understand all of your options moving forward.
Should I take a gap year?
Unfortunately, there is no formula, no rules and not even a crystal ball that gives us a straightforward answer. COVID19 has thrown all of the rule books out the window and we are all re-imagining what is possible - families, gap year programs, the workplace and colleges & universities. We are going to have to make a decision without all of the information we would like to have.
The good news? There is no wrong decision. The bad news? There is no right decision.
Colleges & Universities are working hard to come up with quality remote learning system, opportunities and platforms but we would all be fooling ourselves to say that anyone could recreate an in-person post-secondary experience. On the other hand, many of the stereotypical gap year activities are also in question - travel, easily finding a job for example.
Each decision will come down to the individual student and their family but here are a few things you should be asking yourself:
Can I learn remotely? Do I want to?
Is my online learning experience worth the cost of tuition? And/Or Can I afford that tuition?
Will my college/university allow me to defer my acceptance(see What will happen to my studies if i take a gap year)?
Do I have enough motivation to be responsible for all of my gap year experiences?
Do I have the support of my family for my chosen pathway?
Am I prepared to do the work to create my own "choose your own adventure" year or would I fare better by following school's curriculum, even if it is online?
Will I be able to be adaptive to changes in COVID restrictions? Increased restrictions or relaxing of restrictions?
BEFORE you write off the gap year idea, you need to be able to compare what you know about your potential learning experience with your potential gap year activities. It is not wise to make a decision comparing online learning to an empty void - come out to our free Explore, Dream & Design your Gap Year Online Workshop to get a sense of what might be possible.
The best way is to connect with us for a free 30-minute consult to help explore this decision. We are a non-profit and aren't "selling" gap years, we want those who are a good fit to have the resources they need.
What will happen to my studies if I take a gap year?
They will start next year.
No, you will not forget how to study. No, you will not lose motivation to be a student. You might be rusty on some of the technical elements - you might want to review how to integrate that function or the date of that war before you go back but you won't forget. It's like riding a bicycle, you have been doing it for 14 years, 1 year away will not erase all of that. In fact, done right, you will have developed independence, decision-making and confidence skills that will actually make you a better student and someone able to cope with all of the academic and non-academic factors of post-secondary.
The other factors that you need to know about is what is your post-secondary institution doing about your spot. If you have accepted your offer of admission, it is worthwhile to see if they will grant you a deferral. This means that they will hold your spot for a September 2021 start. In most other years, this is relatively common at many institutions (but not all). This year is proving to be a bit more challenging because of the volume of students who are hoping to do something other than remote learning while universities are still in need of tuition money to cover their operating costs.
Reach out to your university or college and find out what their policy is. This will vary school by school and program by program so the easiest way is to google "name of school deferral policy." It may take you several phone calls and emails but it is well worth the effort to have that deferral there so you don't have to worry about reapplying next year.
If they will not grant you a deferral or if you have not applied to a post-secondary, don't worry, you can apply again next year. To be clear, this is a risk. If you have a guaranteed offer now, there is a chance that next year you might not be accepted. I hear lots of concern about having a double cohort of applicants next year with all of the students who opted not to enter this year. I hear lots of concern about having a double cohort of applicants next year with all of the students who opted not to enter this year.
Only you can weigh the risks of letting go of an offer vs. engaging in a post-secondary experience that is not what you had been dreaming about. Every family will have a different risk profile and weigh these things differently.
I don't have a crystal ball and I don't know what will happen next year, but I suspect that the schools will be trying to make up for lost tuition form this year and will have found efficiencies and an ability to scale programs to larger numbers. The one caveat to this is that residence spaces will likely be the same and might be more competitive.
If you want to talk this through with our team, we are happy to provide a free 30-minute chat. We are a non-profit trying help connect families with the right gap year resources for them, we are not in the business of convincing you to take a gap year. Our coaching skills will ask the questions so you can make better decisions.
If I can't travel, what can I do?
Anything! And that can be both inspiring and overwhelming.
Many people think that a gap year is just traveling and there is nothing farther from the truth. The typical Canadian Gap Year has about 3 week - 3 months of travel and the rest of the time is spent working, volunteering and taking interest courses.
But what about COVID19 restrictions? Yes, they do exist and yes, you need to keep yourself safe BUT being on a gap year means that YOU get to decide what you do and when. YOU have the power to adapt your activities as restrictions tighten or loosen. YOU are in control of your experience and that is powerful.
Here are some other things to consider:
What have you always wanted to learn/try? Skydiving? Fixing a car? Designing a website?
What hobbies have you given up because you were "too busy" that you could take up again? Running? A musical instrument? Drawing?
Where would you go on a local road trip? Who would you go with?
What issues do you see in the world right now that you could devote your time and energy towards? Anti-Racism? Indigenous Rites? Climate Change? COVID19 Research/Recovery?
How do I plan a gap year?
Our top tips:
Do intentional research.
Invest the time and energy into figuring it out.
Remember how many hours you spend looking at college & university options? Probably hundreds by the time you add up all of the presentations in the cafeteria, conversations with your parents & friends, and looking online at program websites. Not to mention evaluating your interests and strengths to understand which subject to study!
You will need to do the same for your gap year. You can't just make a decision to take a gap year and then expect it to be epic by default - you will get out of your gap year what you put into it.
When planning remember to think about:
What do you want to get out of your gap year? What goals to you have for yourself? Who will keep you motivated to achieve those goals when you loose motivation?
What is your budget? This will help frame what activities are within reach. Its okay to have a $0 budget - there are tons of ways to have a purposeful gap year full of great memories without any financial investment.
What level of risk are you prepared to take in pandemic times? Can you work in a public place? Are you comfortable traveling in your city? Province? Country? Internationally? This will be different for each person/family and will dictate what types of activities you should be searching for.
What skills to I want to use? What skills do I want to develop? How can I make that happen?
Gap Year planning is a lot like weight loss. We all know the principals - eat fewer calories, expend more calories, but it's much easier to do with a group of people with a common language and a program that provides support and guidance. That is why we created the Gap Year Planning Toolkit. This is a guided program that gives you the step-by-step process to plan a purposeful DIY gap year. You get access to the toolkit as well as weekly calls with a gap year expert to answer your questions and provide specific recommendations to your unique situation and interests.
We also offer FREE Explore, Dream & Design Your Gap Year Workshops. This hour-long workshop will give you the building blocks to get started planning your gap year with expert tips & tricks and things to consider. Come out and join us!