What to do if you have to take a gap year due to COVID-19?


Shreya Raj

Psychology & Mindfulness Expert

What is the gap year?

A gap year is a year-long break from formal education, often taken between high school and college, but it can be taken in between college years or even after college, before starting a graduate program or entering the workforce as a full-time employee.

A gap semester is similar, only that is it shorter. Typically, people taking a gap year or semester use their time off to travel, volunteer, or work before continuing their education.

A gap year can not only help us get perspective of our future, our career but also gives us more time to plan it, work towards it and do things in the meantime such as doing a job, pursuing a hobby, spending time with our ownself, figuring out our forte and what not!

For those of us who want a little life experience before committing to college or even to explore what options are out there, a gap year can be beneficial.

Gap year caused by the Coronavirus

COVID-19 in one way or another made 2020 a gap year of sorts, for students all around the world. It made education difficult in a lot of ways. For us to adjust to the new way of learning i.e. the online model, the pressue of meeting assignment deadlines, the uncertainty of Coronavirus,

which took a toll on our mental health too, back-to-back exams, etc.was certainly not an easy task.

It’s because of Covid-19 that we realized how outdated our education system, study methodology and style of learning had become.

How is the COVID-19 ‘gap year’ different from all other gap years?

Typically, students taking gap years don’t yet know what they want to study, what they want to pursue in their future and instead want to do some self-discovery to figure out their interests, hobbies, and passion.

Now, on top of campus closures and the lack of in-person learning, there are also economic uncertainties that play a major role this year due to the Coronavirus pandemic. For some students, attending college this year is no longer an option; the recession caused by the pandemic has affected the ability to afford tuition. The unemployment issues don’t only affect the GDP, development, and happiness index of a country but can also indirectly bring down the chance for a student to get educated.

Here are some things one can do while taking a gap year in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, regardless of age:

1. Discover your hobbies:

Covid-19 made the entire human species sit within the four walls of their home for almost a year or maybe even more. Why not make the most of it? If you haven’t figured out your passion, then fear not, this is THE time.

Try new things every day. Make schedules/routines or even spontaneously keep exploring and experiment till you recognize your true forte and something with which you want to make a career and life out of.

Paint, draw workout, stitch, write, design, dance, cook, sing, anything - absolutely ANYTHING. The sky is your limit and no activity is small or something that you should be embarrassed about. Go figure!

2. Take up some courses:

In continuity with the previous point, this is one of the things you can experiment with. Take up random, fun courses and maybe some education and learning courses too. There will be some topic, some particular subject or activity that will grab your attention, and what do you have to lose here?

You even learn something on top of that. Yes, some courses are expensive; you can take up free courses or the paid ones, whichever you find affordable. Some websites that can help you with courses are:

  • Udemy.com
  • Coursera.com
  • LinkedIn Learning
  • Khanacademy.org
  • Others

3. Do (virtual) internships/ jobs:

Part-time internships are not only about earning money but also about having an experience, learning something and getting exposure. But yes, part time-internships or jobs can also add some extra money to the family bank account or your personal pocket money. Coronavirus has made everyone’s bank accounts take a hit, so surely a little more money would be a welcome change.

Do you know what you want to do? Look up websites for part-time or even full-time offers. Haven’t decided what you want to do? Attend workshops, learn new skills, and then look for these offers.

Some websites where you can look for internships are:

  • Internshala.com
  • LinkedIn.com
  • Naukri.com
  • Shine.com
  • Indeed.com
  • Monster.com
  • Cheggindia.com
  • Virtualinternships.com
  • Makeintern.com

Remember, this is the best time and the best way to explore your interests and try out your hand at different things. Later in life, it generally becomes more difficult to switch jobs easily. Don't worry too much about finding the 'perfect' internship or job. Just find one that's good enough and move forward from there.

4. Start a passion-project:

Many people have been a lot less busy, lazy, or unproductive during the pandemic. So what better time to start that project that’s been stuck in your head as a ‘someday’ activity?

A passion project can help you learn about a subject or venture, the one you might want to pursue later, too. So, are you passionate about something? If yes, write a research paper on it, make a project, do a dissertation over it.

The advantage of that, you ask? Later in life, when you pursue your further studies or go looking for a job, that project, that passion project of yours is going to make you look good, make you earn brownie points and also show your passion in a creative, organized, structured, expressive and well-executed manner. Tempted? Go for it! Start today, it’s never too late!

The pandemic has hit all of us hard, but now, this is the time we concentrate on what we can make out of the situation.

The glass is half-full, right? That’s how positivity works. Make the most of this time while also staying safe and healthy.

Taking a gap year, whether by choice or due to circumstances can become a life-changing experience. The key is to use the time to explore what's out there rather than sitting helplessly and feeling that nothing can be done in this time.

View more content by Shreya Raj

Discussion Board

Are you taking a gap year to COVID-19? What's your experience till now and what do you plan to accomplish?

Rohit Chopra
Students need not worry too much about gap year, what is more important is to utilise the year to explore various interests and get some real-life experience and work exposure. ✌️