Colleges and universities are still sorting through some problematic options as they prepare for the first full school year since the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some schools that aren’t in infection hot spots plan to open as usual – for now.
Others, including top tier universities like Oxford and Cambridge, had moved their classes online.
Housing is another concern as sharing dorms and communal bathrooms could increase the risk of students spreading the disease.
No matter how your child’s school decides to address these challenges, the “traditional” university and college experience will likely be diminished this year.
Here are three reasons why taking a gap year could be a better use of your student’s time and financial resources than paying uni-level fees for virtual higher learning.
1 – University is already stressful.
Even type-A overachievers can have trouble adjusting to living and learning on their own in a tertiary environment.
Covid-19 could make going away to college even more stressful.
Is your child going to be uncomfortable in social and educational situations that aren’t ideal for social distancing? Does your child have any preexisting health conditions that might put them at risk?
Will your child be able to adjust on the fly if learning or living conditions have to be altered?
Your home might not be as exciting as a big university. But it’s certainly more stable.
Given how unexpectedly Covid-19 can affect communities, talk to your child about what kind of environment will be best for their education this year.
2 – University is already expensive.
Many schools that have committed to virtual learning aren’t scaling down their tuition fees to match that diminished experience.
Zoom lectures and study groups could be worth the cost for older students who are nearing graduation or working on a thesis project.
But many first and second-year students will be paying handily for introductory credits via foundations courses or other they might be able to earn at an in-area university (like University College Mann for example) or community college at a fraction of the cost.
Earning a few credits during a gap year might also make your child’s eventual return to campus and a full class load more comfortable to manage.
Have a conversation with your child and his or her guidance counsellor/tutor to explore all options for earning credit this year.
And make sure you ask if your child’s school has set up any gap year programs for students who are delaying in-person enrollment or partnered with any online-only universities or even the OU.
3 – University is not the only way to learn.
One positive of the Covid-19 quarantine was that it forced all of us to slow down for a few weeks and take stock of what’s really important.
We spent more time talking to our friends and families. We learned how to cook, draw, speak Spanish, and play music.
We read books we’d never had time for and tried new hobbies about which we had always been curious. We gained new life and working skills that will help us going forward.
Taking a gap year can have many of the same benefits.
In between earning a few online credits, your child could take a part-time job at a company they’re interested in or even take advantage of an apprenticeship via those proposed in IOM Government’s latest strategy outline.
They could volunteer at an organization that serves a cause they want to study. They could use the money they save on housing costs to rent an apartment and get used to setting their own schedule, paying bills, and managing their time effectively.
They can explore their passions in a real-world environment to make sure they’re committing their time and money to an academic major that will make them happy and productive members of society.
University is a significant transition that we’ve been anticipating for our clients within their financial plan, whether for children or grandchildren.
We understand that Covid-19 could affect that planning.
Let’s talk about the information you’re getting from your child’s school and figure out the best options for your students, your family, and your finances.