Lately, I’ve had a lot of questions about taking a gap year. Maybe it’s because students are just burned out after extended on-line learning, or is it a result of financial and other stressors of the pandemic? One questioner wondered if she would be  getting the whole college experience she was paying for if things are not closer to normal by the fall. 

If you’re one of the students thinking of delaying college, here’s a few things to keep in mind: 

  1. A gap year can have a lot of benefits – but only if you use the year wisely.  A year with no plan, no job and no growth will kill your motivation and later entry into college. You really need a gap year plan. We’ll talk about that more in a minute.  
  2. Every college has its own deferral policy so approach your college with your plans as soon as you’ve made the decision you’re deferring. That way you have time to work through any issues that will affect your later enrollment. 
  3. Gap year opportunities (like availability of internships and restrictions on travel) will be different this year so you’ll need to plan ahead and be creative.

What to do? Explore volunteer opportunities, check out virtual internships, take an open-source course in something that interests you, create a gap year reading list..or maybe go all-in on an experience like AmeriCorps. 

The most important thing? Get out of your comfort zone, surround yourself with new challenges and work on finding a deeper understanding about what your interests are. Those are key ingredients to being a great college student.