The COVID-19 Induced Gap Year Plan

Melissa Presti
May 14, 2020

What we know about the current impact of COVID-19 on education is that the rest of the school year has been canceled. You’re finishing classes online and reminiscing about how the year should have ended, especially for graduating seniors.

The impact of COVID-19 on the future of education is a little less clear. Even as universities announce their plans to fully reopen for fall semester, it might be more a wish than a reality. Especially if the main concern is to keep student enrollment from taking a nosedive. NPR predicts that things will look a lot different this fall - delayed starts, an entire online semester, reorganized classrooms for social distancing, and several other cautionary measures. The question many students are asking is, “is this the kind of college experience worth paying full tuition for?” 

And we think they’re right to question it, particularly at universities that have little experience delivering their classes online, or those with an active campus life as the main draw. In normal times, that enriching campus life is worth the high tuition costs, but not now.

What’s the alternative?

There’s already talk of many students delaying their attendance until the on-campus experience can be guaranteed again, which many are ear-marking for Fall 2021. While we wait to return to some semblance of normalcy, we think there are a few different alternatives to consider before you make any major commitments for the fall semester. No matter if you’re an incoming freshman or taking the final lap as a senior, if you’re hesitant about what lies ahead, don’t push that feeling away and instead think about how you want to spend the next school year outside of traditional education - and the price tag that comes with it.

Choosing one of these alternatives isn’t giving up on your degree nor is it a crime to delay the end goal. You don’t get a prize for completing your degree within four years! 

Think about how the next year might look if you take a different and active approach.

Summer & Fall 2020

We’re almost there so we’ve got no time to lose. Any plans you might have had for summer school, vacations, or study abroad programs have likely been slashed from the calendar. Here’s a few ideas for summer and fall that will keep you moving forward and set you up for a fruitful post-COVID world.

1. Take accredited online classes outside of your university.

Your university is likely already pushing you to take online classes over summer, and maybe even for fall semester already. But it’s worth pausing a moment to consider whether there are alternative ways to earn credits that will count towards your degree, but without the huge price tag. 

Newsflash: There are!

We’ve outlined a number of providers of courses that will count towards a college degree, and the steps you need to take to ensure they’re transferable to your college. Our course catalog is full of regionally accredited, highly transferable courses; that are almost definitely a fraction of the cost you’re currently paying for classes.

You have already been forced to familiarize yourself with online classes to finish off this academic year. Now, over the summer and fall, you can sample some online-first courses to see how effective these classes can be when they were created with 100% online learning in mind.

2. Start learning an online skill that you can monetize.

Unfortunately, the closure of many service-based businesses has impacted the student population disproportionately. Servers, baristas, and retail workers have all been left high and dry as their employers have been forced to close indefinitely. 

If you’re in this bucket, you’re likely feeling helpless and wishing there was a way you could find online work to replace the income you’ve lost. 

Newsflash: There is! 

There are many online gigs available to those that have built the skills that suit online work. Creatives, writers, and out-of-the-box thinkers may excel in graphic design, proofreading, and digital marketing. There’s a lot of crash courses out there (both free and paid) to get you started in any of those areas. Once you know the basics, start offering your services for free to get some experience under your belt. You’ll be able to build a portfolio of that work and soon be able to start charging your customers. 

The great thing about digital skills like these is that you don’t need to be employed by a company to earn money with them. Become a freelancer and you’ll essentially be your own boss, charging your clients at a rate that your skills warrant, and working as many hours as you can fit into your schedule. 

It’s important to state that you won’t acquire any of these skills overnight. It will take you time to develop them to a point that they are valuable to a prospective client. But starting now puts you on the path to independence, and a nice supplemental income in the short term while you work on your other educational goals. 

Learn more about these skills that can help you earn money online!

3. Dip your toe in Edumadism if travel restrictions allow!

We’re sad to say that any international travel is probably off the table until at least the fall, and even that is a very speculative prediction.

However, by that time you’ll be well versed in the world of online learning, and have figured out your own approach to staying productive when you don’t have the structure of imposed class schedules and deadlines.

If the world is back open, Fall 2020 would be a great time to combine those alternative courses with world travel, as our Edumads have been doing for the past 4 years. Participants of our programs pursue online education while living in multiple locations around the world. 

The concept is simple; if you’re studying online, why not do it from Bali, Costa Rica, or Europe? If this is your first time hearing about Edumadic, you can learn more about us.

Since many classes in our catalog are 100% self-paced, it reduces the risk that some prospective Edumads see in combining their college classes with world travel. If your course load becomes unsustainable, you can adjust the intensity of your studies as you see fit once you’re abroad, and there is no penalty for doing so. 

And since you’ve now been studying online for half a year, you’ll already have the self-discipline required to stick to your academic schedule and avoid the distractions that can crop up, particularly in the vibrant environments that our programs run in. 

Our Edumads studying from a cafe in Bali

Spring 2021

Come 2021, we’d be very surprised if travel restrictions were still in place. The Spring ‘21 semester will be the time to reassess your future academic path, based on the work that you’ve put in during the second half of 2020.

To recap what you’ve accomplished:

  1. You’ve familiarized yourself with online classes, and knocked out a good chunk of college credits. You may have even put yourself ahead of your peers who stayed on the traditional path, as you had no restriction on the number of credits you could earn.
  2. You’ve started on the path toward becoming an independent freelancer with a digital skill such as graphic design, digital marketing, or social media management. You’ve learned the fundamentals of the skill and started applying what you’ve learned either through your own projects or by offering your skills for free.
  3. You’ve developed the discipline and self-awareness necessary for independent learning. You know how best to construct your daily and weekly schedule to both achieve your academic goals in a timely manner and live a full life outside the “classroom” (or as full as coronavirus has allowed!).

The whole world will be eager to scratch that travel itch that has been building throughout 2020, but not many will be in a position to travel, especially your peers on the traditional education path. They might be back on campus with a full course-load, or still taking classes online through their university. 

You, however, will be free. Sure, you could enroll back at college for the spring semester if the doors are open to the traditional campus experience, but now your eyes are open. To the possibility of combining online education with world travel. Why would you go back to traditional college now, when you could earn the same academic achievements for a fraction of the cost, and from the other side of the world?

If you weren’t able to dip your toe in Edumadism in the fall, now is your chance. And if you were already able to join an Edumadic program, then you could join another program in a different location, or strike out on your own.

Edumads studying from a cafe in Vietnam

Summer ‘21 and beyond?

By now you’re a fully-fledged Edumad! Your view of the world and the status quo will have fundamentally shifted, as is the outcome for most who take this approach to combine online education with world travel.

The question you’ll have to ask now is, what next? Maybe you’ll re-enroll in college because you’ve missed campus life, or maybe you found that the richness of experience abroad easily replaces it. Maybe you’ve seen the benefits of online learning and transfer to a fully online degree, or maybe your experience freelancing online has made you question the value of a degree entirely!

Whatever you decide, we’re sure that this particular gap year plan has the potential to set you on the path to a more fulfilling life post-COVID.

If you want some guidance on turning this plan into reality, feel free to get in touch.