COVID19 Gap Year Information
Into the third year of a global pandemic has taken its toll. Students are finding themselves burnt out, anxious, confused about the world and their future. Choosing a gap year can help you to reignite your spark and feel re-energized and ready for life’s next steps.
Just as COVID has impacted our daily lives, you might want to check out how it has impacted the gap year ecosystem.
What's possible during a pandemic gap year? See what our 2021/2022 CanGap Ambassadors have been up to!
With COVID still kicking around, 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. Each family is going to have to weigh the pros and cons of taking a gap year vs. going off to school in relation to their own circumstances.
Each decision will come down to the individual student and their family, but here are a few things you should be asking yourself:
Am I ready to take on the stress and workload of higher education? Or do I need a break to get the most out of my experience?
What would I still be able to do on my gap year? Does that excite me more than school?
What is the school saying about the delivery model? Is that how I learn best?
Am I going to get my money's worth from my first year experience? And/Or Can I afford the 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 plan 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 the school's curriculum?
Will I be able to adapt 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 something familiar like school to an unknown, like 12 months of nothing (it’s actually not nothing, you can do so much, but you need to think about what that might actually be). Here’s a resource to help you with that.
The best way to make this decision is to connect with us for a free 30-minute consult. 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.
You can also check out the Gap Year Podcast episode on why you should take a 2022 gap year.
I am already burnt out, how will I stay motivated without school?
We hear you! Pandemic fatigue is alive and well. It sounds like you do need a bit of a break to get over that burn out, but you also want to make sure you leverage the year to do something meaningful for your personal and professional development (i.e. not a year of binge watching Netflix...).
That's why we have built amazing communities and resources to help you feel connected and stay on track during your gap year. To get started:
Join our online community in our Gapper Connect Discord Server. It's a community of Gappers, alum and our gap year experts to answer your questions!
Want to level up and build up your portfolio on your gap year? Join our Gap Year GamePlan - not only do you get community, but also accountability and rewards for setting and achieving your own goals. We help you every step of the way so you can feel confident in your decision to take a gap year.
What will happen to my studies if I take a gap year?
They will start the following 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. One 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.
In some cases, your future school might even hold a spot for you while you take time to recharge your battery. 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 2023 start. The ability to defer is not universal but it is becoming more common.
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 small risk. If you have a guaranteed offer now, there is a itty-bitty chance that next year you might not be accepted. The reality is that if your grades were good enough to get in this year, they will likely be good enough next year.
Only you can weigh the risks of letting go of an offer vs. engaging in a post-secondary experience that you are not ready for. Moving forward without feeling ready could lead you to dropping out or not being successful in your studies. Every family will have a different risk profile and weigh these things differently.
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 to 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 you need to answer to make the best decision for your situation.
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 that couldn't be further from the truth. The typical Canadian Gap Year has about 3 week to 3 months of travel. The rest of the time is spent working, volunteering and taking interest courses.
But what about COVID 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.
Check out our blog for suggestions of things you can do on a COVID gap year or listen in to our podcast episode on non-travel gap year ideas.
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 rights? Climate change? COVID19 research/recovery?
The skies and borders are opening up to travel so if that is on your dream gap year list, get excited. Make sure to check travel restrictions and stay flexible as things are always bound to change!
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 spent looking at college and 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 do you have for yourself? Who will keep you motivated to achieve those goals when you lose motivation?
What is your budget? This will help frame what activities are within reach. It's 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 do you want to use? What skills do you want to develop? How can you work on them?
Gap Year planning is a lot like weight loss. We all know the principles - 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 4-Step Gap Year Planner. 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 Planner as well as a plan review by one of our gap year experts where we provide specific recommendations to your unique situation and interests.