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More students considering gap year, but COVID-19 has changed opportunities

More students considering gap year, but COVID-19 has changed opportunities
Posted at 5:10 PM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 10:06:13-04

Monday is the new deadline for many students to commit to which college they'll be attending in the fall.

Hundreds of schools extended their deadline because of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. At least one school is even letting students decide as late as September 1.

More students than usual have been looking at taking a gap year, but those opportunities are different now as well. Colleges have been changing up their programs.

One virtual program from the University of Pennsylvania lets people earn an academic certificate, and a new virtual option from Champlain College focuses on internal and personal growth, and wellness. It also connects you with an internship.

“What I’ve been telling students is that if they can anchor a goal towards some type of career exploration, for example if they're interested in marketing they may be able to get that experience through a virtual internship where they're connected with an organization that's outside of where they are either just somewhere else in the states or internationally,” said Julia Rogers, founding director at Enroute Consulting. “Or they also could do job shadowing or even volunteer work with a mission-based organization for example and still get that same career-related experience.”

Rogers, a gap year counselor, says a lot of students she's talking to aren't interested in virtual learning, so these types of programs may not appeal to them.

Another option is experiential learning programs that have only been international before, but are now expanding to the U.S.

“With gap year programs starting in September, there's the hope that a lot of those programs will either have their quarantine period lifted or they will ask students to actually self-quarantine ahead of the start of the program and then they'll be temperature checks and testing as part of onboarding to the program when they get to their destination,” said Rogers.

One other thing to consider is if you'll be getting college credit or not, and if that will transfer.