A Leap of Faith: The Gap Year

Britney Zhang
August 5, 2020
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COVID-19 has affected nearly every part of the world and our daily lives. From travel restrictions to cities on lockdown, the student experience and higher education have been radically transformed into a “new normal.”

Students from Cambridge University express concerns about the situation, saying that

"There's kind of that idealistic idea that university is the best years of your life and we'll obviously have a very, very different experience of it this year.”

For many universities, the quintessential college experience has been reduced to a screen lecture with faulty wifi. Different universities each have different fall plans: Yale allowing freshmen in the fall and sophomores in spring and Harvard not allowing any sophomores or juniors to return for the whole year. Other universities are taking a complete remote approach, with Oxbridge offering remote lectures until next summer, Imperial College transitioning into a hybrid teaching mode and UCL in works of opening campus for essential services. As higher education encounters a new obstacle seemingly every week, this has led to many conversations amongst students about taking a gap year.

Meme that went viral this year comparing the "quality" of online education with the price. Source: Facebook

Since travel is restricted and difficult in this day and age, there are local alternatives or programs within your own country that allow you to (safely) pursue a gap year. If you do decide to take a gap year, many new and existing communities have emerged as a result of the situation. 

If you are looking to take a gap year, here are some resources and ideas on how to utilize your time. 

Upskill yourself for free or at a low cost

Starting to learn certain skills now will help prepare you for your professional endeavors later on. As a student, you are able to access discounts and free courses. Individual companies also offer their own certifications, such as Google, Deloitte, Salesforce, Facebook, and more!

  • Learn a new language for free with Duolingo
  • Access professional skills through Linkedin Learning and Skillshare, starts on a free trial and then runs on a subscription model after a period of time
  • Khan Academy and Coursera offer a wide range of curriculum, including some free online college courses, coding lessons, and more
  • Invest in technical programs such as Udacity, where you can access programming, business, data science, and even more courses

Start a venture

Are you interested in entrepreneurship? Have you ever wanted to start your own business? Utilize this year! If you have an idea or a MVP, many student-run ventures are offering grants to fund these student ideas.

Join a diverse community of remote students

Even in a virtual setting, community is possible and essential. You aren't alone in this process! Many students around the world are deciding to take a gap year for a variety of reasons. Thankfully, many online communities have been created so you can stay connected and find a support system that will encourage you, hold you accountable, and uplift you on your journey. These communities differ - some are focused on a venture and some are merely to stay in touch and find friends in similar stages or have the same passions as you!

  • Hiatus.work is an online community for incoming and current college students if you're seeking to start a venture
  • Gap Year Association is a community and platform that provides resources and connections to programs

Work from home

You can work for companies from home! Fall and spring interns are common and cover almost every industry and role - technical, design, marketing, business, and more! Need help finding remote work?

Regardless of your decision, we at Quirk are rooting for you!

Here are some additional resources if you would like to learn more about this topic:

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