This is not the time to be thinking about a gap year. It is financially advantageous to get a college or post secondary education as early as possible. If one does the necessary math, the gap year …
This is not the time to be thinking about a gap year. It is financially advantageous to get a college or post secondary education as early as possible. If one does the necessary math, the gap year will cost a student at least one year of a well-paying job. That paycheck will quickly repay the costs of the year not lost.
While some high school seniors may have been thinking about this with our current situation with the coronavirus, there are many reasons to consider the benefits of “staying at home” (or close to home). As of June 25 there is much talk on the news that Europe may not allow Americans to go there because of the sharp rise in coronavirus cases in so many of the states.
Our country is facing millions of unemployed people, so the prospect of getting a job of any kind seems to be very dim. Competition for the available jobs will definitely be a factor. Instead, students should use that time to take advantage by going to college to improve employability.
Institutions like Northwest College are becoming a solution for many young adults preparing for life after high school and for those who desire a career change.
There are many reasons for students to choose a community college and stay close to home this school year. Consider the following:
• Get a head start
Even if students are unsure of what major they’d like to declare when they attend college, the upcoming fall semester is a great opportunity to complete general education requirements that apply to all students. Additionally, it’s a perfect time for students to explore their interests by taking affordable classes, especially since students often change their major areas of interest several times before they graduate. Transferring credits from Northwest College is a streamlined process, and students should feel confident that they’re able to transfer almost anywhere following their time at NWC. According to most recent available data, NWC transfer students transferred to 74 different colleges/universities in 26 states.
• Receive affordable, quality education
Each year, Northwest College awards more than $5 million in grants and scholarships to help lift the financial burden that often comes with paying for college. Most students graduate from Northwest College debt free. Unfortunately, the aftermath of COVID-19 has caused economic insecurity for many families, who are now uncertain about the financial commitment of expensive tuition costs often associated with universities. But depending on students’ eligibility, many may have the opportunity to earn a degree at little or no cost from NWC. But make no mistake: Affordable does not mean low quality. At Northwest College, students can count on getting one-on-one support from highly-credentialed faculty and staff who know them by name.
• Close to home
While many students look forward to “getting away from home,” coming to NWC can be far enough away to get that experience. Consider that, no matter where students choose to go, or stay at home, there are still the costs of food and a place to live. Due to COVID-19, perhaps now more than ever, leaving home for a gap year or moving to an out-of-state university or college may significantly limit students’ ability to easily get home in case of possible stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders.
• Safety is priority
These days, opting to take a gap year may feel like a safer alternative to living in residence halls or spending time in lecture halls, but social distancing doesn’t mean students have to put their education and career goals on hold. Northwest College is currently in the process of developing a plan that is flexible, innovative, safe and effective to continue promoting student success.
• Adaptive and accommodating
Due to their smaller sizes, community colleges can shift and adapt quickly. Demonstrated during the spring 2020 semester, Northwest College has the ability to quickly accommodate students and offer different modes of instruction to suit students of all different learning styles. Regardless of the instruction mode, NWC students can expect to receive one-on-support, with many options such as evening classes, online and hybrid classes to ensure students can learn in a way they feel safe and comfortable.
The future may feel uncertain right now, especially for students pursuing higher education. But be assured that no matter what the upcoming fall semester has in store, Northwest College will remain committed to providing accessible educational experiences for all students.
(Carolyn Danko is a member of the Northwest College Board of Trustees. She is currently serving her fourth four-year term on the board, having been re-elected in 2018.)