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Seniors Rethink Post-Secondary Options as the Future Remains in Question

Oct 23, 2020

With many university classes being held online for the indefinite future, it almost makes you wonder if going to school next year is worth it.

Due to the online aspect of universities this year, many students are rethinking their post-secondary options. Mostly, this means taking a gap year and entering school later on. 

For some, it’s to make money to put towards a school year that is more ‘worthwhile’, and for others, the financial effects of COVID-19 have made paying for tuition a more difficult task. The economy has been on unstable ground since COVID-19 first became widespread in March, as millions of people lost their jobs on an international scale. 

College tuition was expensive before coronavirus, but now financing post-secondary education is even more of a struggle. According to a survey administered by the Census Bureau, 42 percent of college students neglecting to re-enroll are doing so because they are unable to pay for it in the world’s current economic climate.

Keller Armour, senior, plans to take a gap year after graduation.

“I have graduate friends who had their freshman year of college cut short because of the coronavirus, and knowing how that experience has affected them, I don’t wish to go through the same thing. My parents have impressed upon me a high standard for my first year of college and I don’t want that experience to be marred by COVID-19,” Armour said. 

Costs of tuition for a partially online school year are just another factor of Armour’s decision to study abroad after graduating.

“The gap year program I’ve found is significantly less expensive than the tuition prices for most universities, and it’s a huge comfort to me to know that I wouldn’t be heading into my freshman year to both be sent home early and waste thousands of dollars to watch glitchy zoom calls from my bedroom at home,” said Armour.

Armour also hopes to make an impact on local communities, wherever he ends up.

“One key part of the program is community involvement, which is important to me as I’d really like to gain more experience in other communities on an international level. There are so many internship possibilities that could open up to me, as well,” said Armour. 

Ellie Holicky, senior, is considering spending a year in Australia before going off to college.

“I’m applying to schools this fall, and if I choose to take a gap year I might defer my acceptance until the following year,” said Holicky. “I know that next year there’s a chance our lives will still be somewhat different, so why not make things even more interesting?”

With Australia being so far away, Holicky knows it would be a daunting task to start over. However, she has faith that it’ll all work out. 

“I think taking a gap year would be super exciting and would be a great way to get me out of my comfort zone, as well as give me more perspective on the world and myself as a person,” said Holicky.

While HHS counselors aren’t faced with students planning to take a gap year as often as students planning to follow a typical post-secondary education path, they can still provide much-needed guidance. 

The school counselors from Hopkins support students in creating a plan that fits them best— If a gap year is best, then that will be the plan we support them with, said Xeev Xwm Vang, counselor.

However, Vang warns that there is an important distinction between a gap year, and simply taking a year off before enrolling in college. 

“A gap year is not work or taking a year off. A true gap year is when a student goes through a gap year program, which costs money and has tuition too,” said Vang.

As such, the decision to take a gap year is not one to take lightly, and instead requires substantial research.

“The purpose of a gap year is for the student to gain an experience and then someone to help the student understand how the experience impacts them. It is the meaning of the experience and how that promotes growth and development in career and life goals.” said Vang.

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