COVID-19 pandemic pushed some students to opt for a gap year

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, some students have decided to take a year off from school.


Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many college students say they feel overwhelmed, which has led some to take a gap year. (Photo Illustration by Heather Amberson)

Heather Amberson, Staff Writer

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many college campuses in the United States have shut down and moved everything to an online environment. Many students are having a hard time focusing on school, which has led to some choosing to take a year away from college to focus on other things.

Taking a gap year isn’t a negative thing, especially when in the middle of a pandemic. Dealing with a pandemic is already difficult, so taking a year off from college and focusing on your mental health or other priorities could actually be a positive thing for some students. 

I have had thoughts about taking time off and returning once campuses re-open. I took the summer semester off, and I am also taking fewer classes this semester because I knew that dealing with college classes in the middle of a pandemic would be very difficult. 

Living during a pandemic is already hard enough, so adding the stress of school work, making the adjustments needed to do everything online and working at home can make some students overwhelmed. 

According to a study done by the American Council on Education, out of over 2,000 current U.S. college students, one in five students say they are unsure about re-enrolling in classes, and others have decided against enrolling at all. 

Dealing with college-level work is sometimes difficult and with the pandemic, it makes it even harder. With classes fully online, when a student is struggling with an assignment or understanding the material, professors aren’t there to give in-person advice or help. When doing classes over Zoom, communication is hard because it basically limits conversation to one person talking at a time, which takes up class time and doesn’t always allow everyone to have their voices heard. 

Transitioning to online learning is also something that is difficult to deal with for some students. College students come from all different backgrounds and have different financial situations. For students who struggle financially, transitioning to a fully online format can be very difficult, and for some even impossible. 

Without the proper technology, some students may feel like they would be better off taking a year away and coming back when things get somewhat back to normal and college campuses can reopen. 

For many college students working in the same space, you live in can be difficult. Trying to differentiate between school time and free time can be very difficult. When working at home, things that didn’t seem that interesting before suddenly become something that you want to do, because the alternative is having to do work. 

Another difficult component is that there isn’t anything that differentiates your home time and your school time. When campuses are open, students have a place to go where they solely focus on school for most of the time they are there. When working from home, there isn’t anything that makes it feel like a time to be focused on school, like being on campus would do, so some students may have a hard time completing assignments. 

Another thing that might make going to school during a pandemic hard, is the fact that some students are dealing with some form of anxiety or depression, caused by the unknown of everything around them. Students are also probably more stressed out now than they would be in normal circumstances, which can have a negative effect on the quality of work they produce. 

According to a survey done by Vice, in which they spoke to over 15,000 people in more than 30 countries, with the majority of people between the ages of 16 and 39, 48% of people said they are more depressed, 60% said they had more anxiety and 69% said that their stress has gone up since an average day before the pandemic. 

With depression, anxiety and stress levels now higher than normal for some college students, completing assignments can feel almost impossible, and if the assignments do get done, the quality might not be nearly as good as normal. A gap year allows students to make their mental health a priority and hopefully return to school with a clearer mind. 

For some, taking a gap year can be considered being lazy or not wanting to do any work. But during a pandemic, with all the challenges it brings, students taking a gap year to focus on mental health and other priorities isn’t necessarily a bad thing.