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Students considering gap year due to Covid-19

Published: Saturday 15th August 2020

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, colleges and universities across the globe have been forced to make a series of abrupt adjustments and rapid changes. Schools closed their campuses, online coursework and virtual lectures have taken in-person classes over and virtual conferences have replaced graduation parties. These changes could continue well past the upcoming semester, too. And as institutions predict that remote learning will continue because vaccines will likely only be available for emergency use, if at all by then, students are considering a gap year due to coronavirus.

With the uncertainty surrounding college and university reopenings this fall, more and more students are facing a tough choice and are considering a gap year as another option. Should they delay?

Survey reveals students considering gap year due to Covid-19

students walking and talking while smiling. gap year concept.

According to a recent study on Covid-19 and university access, the Sutton Trust found that one in five university applicants (19%) in the UK had changed their mind about attendance for the 2020 academic year. In line with the findings, this change was both concerning their preferred university or by deferring a place in favour of a gap year. As time goes by, it seems more and more likely that universities across the UK will begin courses online from September 2020 onwards. In fact, Cambridge University and the University of Manchester have already announced that their lectures will be online when the academic year begins.

Consequently, while some students may be willing to adjust to online learning, others won’t be welcoming the thought. Therefore, you may find yourself pondering over gap year ideas. Of course, the alternative of taking a break, gaining work and life experience, while putting off your studies to ensure teaching is back to normal, is well worth your consideration. And although taking a gap year can be a smart decision, it’s worth doing your research before making your final decision. To help you make this call, here’s how the pandemic has impacted your gap year options concerning, taking a year-long break from your studies.

Travelling abroad is a popular gap year choice

teenagers college student smiling with globe

Travelling abroad may often include work or a volunteer abroad program. However, due to the current circumstances it may not be the most feasible option. With coronavirus restricting all international travel for the past three months, some travel restrictions are likely to remain in place for safety reasons. Therefore, this could largely impact the possibility of spending a year abroad to explore the world. Before making any final decisions make sure to keep yourself up to date with the latest travel news as well as check the website for government advice.


Although it may not be a paid work opportunity, volunteering could be an ideal scenario. Taking a year off can be an opportunity to give back, and that is the case now more so than ever. You don’t need to go overseas to make a difference. You can check any volunteering opportunities within your local community, whether this means the NHS trusts or the nearest volunteer centres. Moreover, charities and organisations such as the Mental Health Foundation or Mind also offer volunteering opportunities.

Internships and work experience

never stop learning words written on a laptop screen.

One of the most beneficial ways to spend your gap year is by taking on an internship or apprenticeship to gather hands-on work experience. However, the opportunities available may now be more limited. Although tis will depend on the industry you want to work in, it’s be best if you start your research as soon as possible. Don’t be discouraged to send out your CV as especially now, there may be companies that need a few extra hands-on-deck. A job board, like Zoek, can help you find the latest opportunities with a quick and simple online job search.

Part-time courses as a gap year alternative

If you still want to upskill and learn, then you can consider taking some free online courses.  When it comes to online learning, there is a wealth of courses to choose from that could range from one to three months or more. The upside is that you won’t only study online at your own pace, but you can also acquire a certification that will look impressive on your CV.

As with any life decision, there will be pros and cons. Taking a gap year can be a great chance to learn more about yourself, your interests and find time for personal growth. In fact, opting for a gap year has become a very realistic option due to the coronavirus pandemic. On a final note, bear in mind that before any final decisions, you should do as much research as possible. Discuss your options with family and friends and take your time to make a call that will benefit you the most in your future career development.

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