In age of COVID, don't dismiss 'gap year'

 
Updated 6/22/2020 10:47 AM

As a previous appointee to Illinois' Board of Higher Education, a past chair of the board of trustees of Northern Illinois University and a current member of the Board of Governors of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I have long been a champion of on-campus higher education -- one that's rich in building character and strong societal values.

The concept of a gap year, long popular In Europe, has been gaining widespread acceptance in the U.S. During my teenage years, there was the expectation of a direct path, high school to college.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But the world has changed and so have the expectations and deliberations of our youth.

The year 2020 has been discombobulating for high school seniors who faced their last semester with a shelter-in-place order and e-learning.

They are now being asked to make decisions about college in unfamiliar circumstances riddled with uncertainty.

If a gap year is being considered, the student should determine how it will be structured and what benefits will be accrued.

I recommend researching universities and finding out more about their policies.

There are gap year programs which will match you to a service opportunity, internship or university for a one-year commitment. The choice is yours.

For more information, visit the American Gap Year Association.

My strongest recommendation is not to summarily dismiss a gap year as an option. In this era of a global pandemic, what may be altered is, quite simply, the timeline.

Cherilyn G. Murer

Downers Grove

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