More seniors taking gap year

Seniors across the country feel uneasy about tuition, remote learning


Eva Roytburg

Graphic includes respondents to both the NT News destinations survey and the ntseniors2020 Instagram account

COVID-19 has shaken up college plans for high school seniors across the country. About one in six high school seniors say they definitely or most likely will change their plans to attend college in the fall of 2020 because of COVID-19, according to a survey of 1,171 students conducted by the higher education research firm Art & Science Group. Of the one/sixth, 16 percent say they will take a gap year.

During most years, there are fewer than 3 percent of first-year students at four-year institutions who took off a year or more before attending, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles.

With the growing chance of colleges moving classes online for the fall, many students are wondering whether a semester of online classes provides the same benefit of regular, brick-and-morter school.

There have been many college students demanding refunds from their colleges due to the switch to remote learning. As uncertainty over college grows,  New Trier seniors have been asking the same questions about whether online college is worth it.

This year, about 22 Trevians indicated that they were taking a gap year. That is 4.2% of the respondents, the highest percentage of gap-year-takers in the last 15 years

This year, about 22 Trevians indicated that they were taking a gap year. That is 4.2% of the respondents, the highest percentage of gap-year-takers in the last 15 years.  Some are doing programs such as Americorps and Seamester while others are playing junior hockey.

Julia Hertel is one of those seniors who are taking a gap year due to the virus crisis. She was interested in taking service trips during her time, but she was unsure if those trips are feasible in the next coming months.

“It all depends on how travel bans are going to work, and if programs are still going to happen…I’m currently in Brazil and I might stay around here if things don’t change,” she said.

Other seniors, however, planned to take a gap year before the coronavirus hit. Trey Bess made the choice to play junior hockey in Peoria for a year a couple of days before the coronavirus hit. 

After that year, he will make a choice about where to go next.

  “Unless I get picked up by a higher level team or a college picks me up, I’ll probably go to a community college for two years and transfer out,” he said.

Senior Dylan Hardt also decided to take a gap year for other reasons than the virus. He said that pretty early in his senior year, he knew “I needed to take like a year just to figure myself out and figure out what I want to do the rest of my life, what I want to do in college.”

Hardt plans on attending a gap year program in the Fall called Seamester that offers educational voyages across the seas. His program is a 90 day trip from Bali to South Africa, and in the end, he’ll earn college credit. If his program doesn’t run due to the virus, Hardt said, he plans on getting a job in order to save money for college.

Hardt believes that a gap year is a great opportunity for students.

“I think a lot of people should look into taking a gap year. There are so many benefits to it — not a lot of people can say I went sailing for three months right as I got out of high school and it’s such a unique experience.”