This is the time when most of us would be occupied with our typical summer plans: concerts, national and international travel, date nights to the movies, bar hopping and block parties. Now, young people have different concerns taking up their time: education and how to fund it. Due to COVID-19, it’s been reported by CNBC that 68 percent of parents are worried about paying for college. According to the Business Insider, 43 percent of high school seniors, who did not commit to a college, would rather take a gap year. Can you really blame them?
With the combination of post-secondary costs skyrocketing, widespread coronavirus concerns, job losses and economic uncertainty, this is the moment where it is crucial that everyone does what’s best for them and their pockets. I heard from a couple of teens who shared their views on why taking a gap year was something to consider.
According to the Business Insider, 43 percent of high school seniors, who did not commit to a college, would rather take a gap year.
Brayden Lewis-Williams is a graduate of St. Rita of Cascia High School, located in Chicago’s Beverly View neighborhood. Williams explained, “Before the pandemic initially hit, I planned to continue my education at Eastern Illinois University. After much consideration, I will be taking a gap year. It will be spent abroad with a gap year program called EF Gap. The program allows you to travel all around the world, participate in service learning, and offers internships abroad while letting you earn college credits. The whole online class concept is not really ideal to me or any of my friends that I have talked to about it. I feel without an actual classroom or learning setting, I will not be as motivated to learn. A lot of my peers are really scared with how colleges and universities are going to handle this first year of school while the world is in a pandemic.”
Mikail Koonce is a former student at Prairie State Community College in south suburban Chicago Heights. He shares how the pandemic put a pause on his learning plans. “Before COVID hit, I was planning to return to Prairie State in the fall to complete my second year; but now, I’ll return the following semester. I have friends who are taking Zoom classes, and it’s hard not being in a school atmosphere. The focus is not there. This is going to make people consider the cost of college and may lead to less people attending. During my gap semester, I’ll make money by keeping my job at Target.”
Whether or not you feel a corona-inspired gap year is the path for you, keep in mind that high-paying jobs are not easing up on their requirements. The best of the best are still desired. Most of those opportunities will need candidates to have a degree. No matter how long it takes, devote yourself to advancing your education. It may be challenging, but not impossible. If you do decide to take time off, don’t waste it. For ideas on how to make the most of your gap year, click here.
By Marilyn Koonce, Northern Illinois University Alumna