Thinking about taking a gap year between high school and college? In turbulent times, a year delay before transitioning to the demands of college can be useful. You may be working somewhere to build up your college fund. You may decide to volunteer for a nonprofit…or perhaps spend time at a relative’s beachfront home. You can do any of these while also adding in a little bit of remote learning.
Here’s the how and why behind this idea.
Maximizing Your Gap Year
With the ease and access of remote learning technology, you can have the best of both worlds: a time to recharge and relax and get a head start toward your next life goal: a college education.
College planning experts and those who’ve taken a gap year agree that six months or a year away from focusing on academics takes away from your ability to learn and retain knowledge. Yes, “summer learning loss” is a real thing!
Remember how it took a few days to get refocused after a semester or summer break? Imagine what it’s like to jump back into a college classroom after a year away.
Even if you spend a few hours a day taking on a remote learning class, you’ll keep your study skills sharp and make college demands a lot less jarring when you’re finally ready to jump back in.
Remote Learning: Take a Class, Any Class
You might be saying, “But I’m not really sure what my major should be.” The good news here is that a gap year can be a time to explore a subject you’ve always wanted to look into. Remote learning opens up the possibilities for expansion of knowledge, and that’s always a good idea.
Of course, if you know your field of interest, remote learning can be an excellent opportunity to prepare yourself better academically.
This step is especially true for those who want a career in math and the sciences – in college, the learning comes faster than high school, and the expectations are higher. You don’t want to fall behind in college because catching up is really hard to do. There is little tolerance in college for that assignment “you forgot” to turn in on time.
A Head Start Into Required “Gen Eds”
Another smart idea is to look up the general education requirements for a college degree. Imagine the value of getting those basic English composition courses or health terminology classes out of the way, so you can spend more time on the tougher courses to come later.
General education courses are basic to all degree requirements, but they will vary according to your university choice. Common ones include:
At most universities, the remote learning courses are set up to satisfy general education requirements and a student’s major. That’s a win-win. These mandatory classes will further develop critical and analytical thinking skills, improve the ability to communicate clearly and persuasively, and establish a baseline of knowledge for a deeper understanding of a subject.
Best of all, most universities will have such courses available through remote learning. With today’s interactive technologies, you could even take classes in basic anatomy or physiology during your gap year. Most online classes contain the same content as on-campus classes. (Here’s an example of the “gen eds” that are online at a health sciences university in the Midwest.)
Getting Ready for Remote Learning
Online learning requires the ability and personal discipline to work independently and motivate yourself to meet deadlines and stay current with reading and course assignments.
Expect to log in to your course several times a week, so make sure you have reliable access to the internet and a laptop or desk computer that meets specific requirements.
A good summary of how to achieve a satisfying remote learning experience is in this blog.
Whether you jump into remote learning or devote your gap year to being away from school, you can still maximize that time by exploring career paths that seem like a good fit for you. A gap year that includes thinking about long-term options and getting set up for college success can indeed be a worthwhile experience.
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