A year ago, taking a gap year barely crossed my mind, but now, because of the coronavirus, I’m seriously considering it.
As colleges debate whether to restore in-person classes or continue having online ones in the fall, I’m debating whether I should enroll this fall. My thing is, I don’t want my parents to spend so much money just for me to take Zoom classes from my bedroom.
Before the pandemic struck and forced everyone into distance learning, I was looking forward to college. I had a vision of what college is supposed to look like. I want to experience the same energy as some of my friends have in college, with conversations that start in class and continue over those open buffet meals in the dining hall with my classmates. I can’t get that over Zoom or staying at home. Even if I got to be on campus, it’d be hard to have these conversations with people who are six feet away. I’m loud, but not that loud.
Both of my parents are college professors, so when I first brought up the idea of taking a gap year, they weren’t happy. For my dad, who is a first-generation college graduate, pursuing higher education is what led him to come to the United States from Turkey. My mom liked college so much she went back there to become a professor. My parents want me to learn and grow in college the same way they did, but they also know that remote learning hinders that.
While my gap year isn’t all planned out, I’ve been looking into working as a COVID contact tracer. I want my time to be meaningful, and with that job, I could be a part of the solution to this pandemic.
Freshman year is supposed to really set the tone for the next three years—it’s kind of like boot camp. While I don’t want to wait to start school, the way I see it, a gap year would allow me to at least experience all four fulfilling years of college, truly learning from and getting to know my peers and professors.
A shorter version of this commentary also aired on KCBS.