Why I'm Taking A COVID-19 Gap Year

On May 5, 2020, I called the admissions office at my university and told them I was taking a gap year. I never planned on taking one, but I also never planned on a global epidemic bringing normal life to a halt. Here is why I did it.

If my college chose to come back in the fall, I would be at high risk for catching COVID-19. The packed dorm rooms, shared bathrooms, and massive freshman lecture halls would be the perfect environment for the spreading of disease. Even as a young healthy individual, I was unwilling to try my chances with death. Furthermore, come Thanksgiving, winter, and spring break, I would not be able to come home to my family in fear of infecting them.

If my college chose to be online, I would be paying full tuition for university but missing out on so many experiences that make it enriching, from clubs and job fairs to sports and dining halls. I would not be able to live in a dorm, easily collaborate on a group project, or walk through the beautiful campus in the company of new friends.

The downside to taking a gap year was that it would be one more year until I graduated, possible loneliness in the isolation of my home, and the possibility that it would be a year “wasted”- where I accomplished nothing when I could have done something.

The upside was that I could have a normal freshman experience, and have a year to focus on myself in a way I have never been able to before.

I choose the latter. It was a difficult and scary decision, not only because I was suddenly changing a plan I had held for much of my life- to attend college directly after high school- but I didn’t know anyone else who had made the same choice. I was the first person I knew to peel off from the normal path, and while some called me insightful, others implied I was extreme.

What would you have done?
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