Many considering a “gap year”
For many incoming college freshmen, as well as some existing college students, the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major curveball.
COVID-19 has caused many colleges across the country to extend the May 1 deadline for students to accept offers until June 1, allowing students and families time to weigh their options during the economic crisis.
Last month, a national ACT session was postponed until June 13, and the SAT session scheduled for May 2 was cancelled. This has raised questions on whether or not colleges will waive admission tests for incoming freshmen, and some colleges are already responding. Notably, Case Western University in Ohio stated the intention to run a trial of "test-optional" admissions for incoming students.
Another impact of COVID-19 is that students who previously planned to enroll in colleges out-of-state may choose to stay closer to home.
Other students may choose a timely gap year, although the process is more complex than simply postponing college for a year. For high school seniors who have already been accepted into a university, a gap requires academic approval. However, formal gap years may also be in danger according to Allen Koh, CEO of California-based test-prep and college admissions firm, Cardinal Education. Due to the high chance of lower enrollment numbers, many colleges are likely to cut their gap year programs.
Should programs remain intact, Ric Edelman at Forbes magazine advocates for students taking a gap year while the pandemic runs its course, so that students can have the full college experience once on-campus attendance is guaranteed.
Back here in Milledgeville, many Georgia College students are hoping for a "normal" fall semester. Georgia College student Ava Leone, a Mass Communication student nearing her senior year, is concerned that if the college has a virtual semester, she may lose valuable newsroom experience that would make her less competitive in the job market post-graduation.
"I'm scared of walking away from my college career with fewer skills and knowledge than my peers due to less intense or watered-down courses," Leone said.
Jenna Bryson, a Graphic Design major and Marketing minor at Georgia College, says the biggest difference for her art classes would be the lack of live feedback while she works on projects, less engaging critiques and the inability to view live demos.
Bryson said a virtual semester would have a large effect on the social aspect of her college experience because of her work in Supplemental Instruction, her participation in the Georgia Education Mentorship Program and her internship at the Georgia College Wesley Foundation.
"Not to mention my day-to-day social interactions with people I love," Bryson said.