Hey Seth — I appreciated your perspective, and certainly, a Gap Year could be one possible option for young people considering college this fall. But I did want to offer an alternative perspective for consideration. And in full disclosure, I know I bring my bias as a college professor (but hey … we need to make a living as well :-).
As one of my students put it … by the time school starts in the fall, this would’ve BEEN a Gap Year! Six months stuck at home (which felt more like a year), they had the opportunity to do many of the things a Gap Year would have afforded. They are ready to get back on campus, and start the next phase of their life, which is preparing them for the rest of their lives.
Speaking of preparing — I know most (or all) colleges & universities have been preparing like my small, private Christian university has been, to receive students back in the fall. They are spending huge amounts of money (mostly from earmarked grants and donations), to prepare the classroom, dorms, and cafeteria to be safe with new equipment and new protocols.
In addition, many schools are offering “hybrid” options, where students will have the option of going to class in-person, or join by live video feed. This is totally different to “online learning,” and it’s kind of the best of both worlds, without compromising safety, or the robust interaction of the classroom, and access to professors and mentors live and in person.
Schools are also making contingency plans, that in the case where we had to once again send students home mid-semester — we are so much more prepared to so technologically, and as far as curricula is concerned.
Online education is certainly a viable option for many people (and necessary for others). But it is not for everyone. I know my students did not enjoy switching to a remote format the last 2 months of class, and are anxious to get back on campus. There is so much more to an education than just “dissemination of information.” And the college experience provides huge advantages.
Further, I can’t think of a better time to attend university. As I write this, I am re-writing all of my syllabi, and this is a very exciting time to be a professor & mentor – with the goal of preparing students for this brand “new world” we have just been thrust into. From both the perspective of dealing with the topic of global pandemics (preparing future mental health professionals); as well as helping students process this new world of racial reconciliation and navigating through the very complex racial issues and tensions our country is experiencing.
Lastly, as a small Christian University, we will be able to provide the type of mentoring, small-group interactions, and life-on-life experiences that many larger schools are not able to provide. As a professor, I am not only bringing my life experience and education into the classroom — I am bringing my cross-cultural experience as an immigrant, and as a 35-year veteran, bringing the gospel and hope to kids of diverse backgrounds in the inner-city. Now I get to equip the next generation to do the same! This is very exciting for me, and my students are eager to get back into it.
I did appreciate your article … I just wanted to share a different perspective for consideration. Maybe a follow-up article on “Ten Reasons College Students will Have an Amazing Experience in the Fall” :-).