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Incoming freshmen urged to take gap year as COVID-19 uncertainty looms

If there’s one piece of advice graduating high school seniors are probably hearing a lot of these days, it’s this: take a gap year.

Calls encouraging the class of 2020 to defer college for a year continue to mount amid the coronavirus pandemic and resulting lockdown.

“Dear High School Seniors: It’s Time To Consider A Gap Year Thanks To Covid-19,” writes Eric Brotman, a financial planner, in Forbes.

“Waiting a year may be the best move in order to ensure you get the traditional college freshman experience, both academically and socially,” Brotman writes. “Taking a gap year may not have been your original plan, but it can present you with a lot of new opportunities.”

He suggested getting a job to save up some money or try to shadow a professional in the field they’re interested in to “find out whether that job is the right fit for you before you spend thousands of dollars on a degree.”

A similar message greets readers of Harvard University’s Crimson student newspaper. “Dear Incoming Freshmen: Take a Gap Year!” writes student Jonathan Katzman, an editor with the paper.

“I have one piece of advice for incoming freshmen. Don’t come. Yet. Harvard is a wonderful place and we are excited to have you. But right now, the Harvard experience is a shell of its typical self,” Katzman writes.

“Don’t be fooled by emails sent by the administration. The academic experience on Zoom is fundamentally flawed — no amount of summer planning will fix it,” he added. “More importantly, the social experience is non-existent. As the chances of an atypical fall seem more and more likely, freshmen are presented with a pretty good alternative: deferring college for a year.”

California State University’s decision to remain virtual for the fall 2020 semester, with on-campus classes for only a few exceptions, has definitely prompted a gap year discussion in the Golden State.


An apparent San Diego State student tweeted: “Any incoming freshman to the CSU system should take a gap year or attend community college because the first two years of classes is not worth the tuition they charge without the full college experience.” The May 12 tweet is up to 30,000 likes and counting.

Also in California, GOP attorney and National Co-Chair of Women for Trump, Harmeet Dhillon, chimed in with her May 14 advice on Twitter:

“My advice to graduating seniors is take a gap year. Learn to play an instrument. Get a job (not contract tracer please). Improve your skills. Without the in-person social interaction, there’s increasingly little reason to go into debt for this miserable experience. Live a little!”

And scholar Scott Galloway, a successful entrepreneur, best-selling author, and professor of marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, is also in support of a gap year, although his argument could also be made in a non-Covid-19 year, too.

“[I]t’s a great year to take a gap year,” he recently told New York magazine. “I think most 18-year-olds are not prepared for college. A combination of helicopter parenting and social media have stunted and arrested the development of America’s youth.”

“University administrators have unwittingly become mental-health counselors. I think a lot of young people, especially boys, could use another year of seasoning experience, work experience, or some sort of service. A lot of these kids just aren’t ready for the competition and the kind of intense environment that is college.”

MORE: President Trump calls for schools to reopen

MORE: CSU’s 23 campuses to remain online for fall semester

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About the Author
Fix Editor
Jennifer Kabbany is editor-in-chief of The College Fix.