Taking a College Gap-Year: Hot Tips to Save Money

As colleges and universities weigh the prospect of moving scores of their classes online due to COVID, you may be facing a decision of your own – whether to enroll or delay your attendance in favor of a gap year. 

If you are a new high school graduate contemplating deferring your college enrollment, be sure to inform your college admissions department of your decision as soon as possible. Otherwise you could get left with a set of unappealing options. 

Some higher education institutions have, in fact, already elected to move to an online model for all or part of the next academic year. So if you were planning on attending one of these schools, here is the scenario you’ll need to sort through:

If you go straight to college, you’ll be unable to capture the full experience of traditional campus life

OR

If you take a gap-year, your options as it relates travel and employment will likely be severely limited.

In Europe, gap years between high school and college are a fairly common practice. 

In the U.S., not so much. 

Media attention surrounding Barack Obama’s daughter Malia pursuing this route in 2016 prior to attending Harvard University has heightened awareness around the viability of the “gap-year option. 

In a recent survey conducted by the Baltimore-based consulting firm Art & Science Group, it was revealed that 17% of students have elected to change their college plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 16% indicted that they are likely to take a gap-year with 17% saying that they’ll defer to spring semester of 2021 before enrolling full-time at the university of their choice. 

Navigating The New College Normal

Here’s what we know at present. With millions of Americans now out of work due to the pandemic, the college funding landscape has been severely altered for the distant future. 

Despite having been accepted to your dream university, you now may be struggling with how to pay for it. Maybe your two summer jobs haven’t materialized due to business layoffs and cutbacks. And while you may have already received your financial aid offer, it’s now looking like it’s less than you’ll need to attend. 

If you currently find yourself in this predicament, you’re not alone. In a recent study conducted by OneClass of more than 10,000 current freshmen, sophomores and juniors from 200-plus colleges and universities across the country, 56% of college students surveyed say they can no longer afford their tuition tab. 

About half of these survey respondents said that they needed to determine a fresh new way for paying for school due to the pandemic’s impact on their financial situation. Moreover, nearly 7% said that they’ve already had to un-enroll in favor of finding full-time work or alternative education options.

As it relates to parents, many are likely feeling the stress of all of this as well. According to Lending Tree, 40% of parents surveyed indicated that they have accessed their child’s college fund to help mitigate expenses tied to the pandemic driven economic fallout. 

This is where the prospect of taking a self-designed gap year comes in. Carefully thought through, it can offer you the opportunity to take advantage of valuable internship or volunteer experience prior to stepping foot on a college campus. 

Check with the Gap Year Association for a list of accredited programs along with advice on the merits of taking a gap year. 

There are also a host of potential low cost learning opportunities that you can avail yourself to during this period. We recently reported about global online platform Coursera’s offer of free courses to students worldwide during the summer months. 

Another option is the more affordable option of attending community college for a semester or two to save on costs. This is a great option if you’re seeking to get back on track financially while the pandemic settles down. 

Here at Kollege Kampus, we know this is a challenging time and that you may be facing some difficult decisions in the days ahead.  

We are here to help. If you would like a complimentary 2-week free online course to explore how to navigate your college options, including delayed enrollment and a gap year, subscribe here: www.kollegekampus.com to be notified of the course open enrollment in July.

In the meantime, good luck and be sure to close that gap.

Founder, author of "Get a Degree, Debt Free," winner of 9 scholarships, C student, graduated with no college debt.

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