Many students in grade 12 are facing a very different first-year at university in September 2020, with many universities planning the majority of their large classes as virtual learning using a tried model of education called flipped education. At the same time, labs and tutorials, which have traditionally been small groups depending on the university’s policy, might be offered in school.
A lot of students have asked if they should defer or take a year off to be able to attend university in the more traditional setting of in-class lectures, an orientation week and the social activities on campus, and I wanted to share my thoughts.
This year, universities are still planning to start classes in September. However, some universities such as McGill have already stated that they will be offering the first semester virtually and will assess the opportunities to allow students to engage with each other.
Since classes are beginning, universities are not automatically offering deferral options. If you want to accept your current offer, then apply for a deferral, you will need to follow the university’s policy for applying and then wait for their response. For the 2021 applications, universities will be considering the new graduating high school class of 2021 applicants plus students who postponed their education for one year. If you choose not to accept the current offer you have, there is no guarantee that you will receive this offer or another offer for September 2021.
This is very uncertain, but if a lot of students take a Gap year or Victory Lap, there will be more students than typical applying for September 2021. Due to large numbers of applications for 2021, the universities may consider keeping some lectures online to accommodate more students and may have limited space in residence. Also, more students in a program suggest more competition, fewer students in a program, …well you get the point. Perhaps easier to shine.
Unfortunately, we usually make our decisions based on the facts we know, but the only certain about COVID-19 is that we do not have all the facts. We are in the unknown. There isn’t ONE question to ask, and there isn’t ONE answer, but as you ponder your decision for September 2020, do not assume that waiting one year will mean that you are back to the OLD NORMAL.
Consider the positive aspects of virtual education – no residence or food costs because you can continue to live at home. Instead of saying that you do not learn well with virtual education and therefore you will wait for classes to resume, consider how to change your learning strategies and how you can adapt.
Take control of what you can, time-management and organizational skills, strong study skills and mindset by working with an academic life coach. All areas of your life that will support you forever as well as in a virtual education setting.
If you are considering a GAP year, consider working with a professional at a Gap Year Association to plan out what that year will look like to maximize its benefit.
May 13, 2020