Coronavirus Impact: Choosing to Take A Semester or Year Off of College

take a semester off of college

As more colleges start to consider staying online for fall 2020, we’re reading more advice and news about what students should do. “Wait and see” is one approach. But there are others. Now is the time to consider if you should take a semester off of college… or maybe even a year.

Diane Klein, a veteran professor, published an article on Medium that’s getting a lot of attention.

This is a message to all high school seniors (and their parents). If you were planning to enroll in college next fall — don’t.

Diane Klein, A twenty-year professor on starting college this fall: Don’t.

In it, she says starting college as a freshman this fall isn’t going to be worth it, because schools will not be back to normal. First of all, she says financially, it doesn’t make a lot of sense. Secondly, she tells students to “let go of FOMO” and advocates for a “gap year” instead (something we have also recommended).

‘As It Was Before’

While we appreciate and even agree with a lot of her advice, we want to clarify one thing: No college experience is going to be “as it was before.” I know that’s hard to swallow, and even comprehend. But I believe higher education, as it navigates the budgetary and operational complications created by the pandemic, will incorporate more online learning.

RELATED: Will Colleges Reopen for the Fall 2020 Semester?

Colleges and universities will end up being more agreeable to moving classes that have always been in giant lecture halls to online venues. It will save them money in the long run. They’ve made the leap to all-online instruction, and they’re not going to pull back entirely. We’re going to see a “both/and” model being used more now, instead of an “either/or.”

Yes, sporting events will probably not go on as planned this fall. Those giant football games will be cancelled. I don’t think our general well-being can feel completely comfortable in a stadium with thousands of people just yet. I think we’re all going to be a bit shell-shocked for a while longer.

Deferring and Leave of Absence

So, as Professor Klein says: You, the student, with your parents, have the decision making power right now. What do you think and feel is best for you? If you’re a new college student, is deferring a year or a semester best? That would mean requesting a gap year and deferring enrollment.

RELATED: Coronavirus Impact: Is This the Time for a Gap Year?

If you’re already an enrolled college student, you do not have to register for more classes, and instead take a leave of absence.

A leave of absence means you’re not enrolled currently, but you do intend to re-enroll and return. Individuals would need to speak with their advisers and the registrar, but there is usually no penalty involved. Keep your financial aid in mind as well.

If you do end up choosing to take a semester off of college, or longer, keep busy. Give back. Find a passion. Be safe. Keep learning.

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