With the Covid-19 virus impeding graduations, college visits, summer recruiting, vacations, you name it, it’d be easy for the senior class of 2020 to feel stuck. But there are several different paths forward toward a promising future, and all should be carefully considered.
1) Go where you are wanted/accepted – If you weren’t procrastinating, then seniors should have already been accepted to some colleges and/or have athletic offers. If you’re lucky, you got to take a campus visit. If not, then you might need to choose your school virtually. Since we live in a technologically advanced age, there are multiple videos and resources to get the best possible feel for a campus. I am a big fan of feeling a college’s energy from an actual visit, but viewing a campus can be done from afar. As you visit virtually, write down the pros and cons of each place. Find a way to connect with current students or alumni to hear from their first-hand experience what the school is like; and ultimately, go with your gut.
2) Explore Taking a Gap Year – Taking a year off between high school and college can be a beneficial option for graduating seniors. I had a former player who was not going to play college basketball. He spent six months in Argentina working for an NGO and, while there, he learned Spanish, helped others in need, and gained a maturity that he wouldn’t have had going straight to a college campus. When he started college the following year, the trappings that await the average college freshman didn’t affect him. He hit the ground running and had a higher purpose for getting his college degree. And he didn’t get homesick at college, which can happen to many freshmen.
“What is a gap year?” searches on Google exploded by 180% in the last week of April alone. This is no doubt a result of the uncertainty for prospective students, for college campuses, for everyone when it comes to what the world will look like in the Fall . . . or 12 months from now. Taking a year off to gather yourself, serve others, and see how this pandemic evolves will give graduates the time needed to make a less rushed decision on their academic future. 35% of prospective college students are planning on actually taking a gap year, according to one survey.
But a Gap Year isn’t the perfection solution for everyone in 2020 because traveling is still severely limited and money/job opportunities are tight, too. Gap years are much less accessible to lower-income students because wealthier students can more easily afford to take a year “off” and still afford college if/when they decide to go to school. There are one-year programs, like AmeriCorps, that offer service opportunities all over the country and also provide a living allowance and Education Award upon completion of service to help pay for college.
3) Attend a Prep School for a Post Grad Year – Numerous athletes are reaching out to prep schools for more information about a post grad year. Similar to a gap year, this extra year to mature and see how the world evolves will give players the chance to improve at their sport, to get better academically and earn college credits, while having a chance to be seen by more college coaches. Many players and their families are paralyzed in the decision-making process given the current situation. Do they sign with the college that has offered them? Or do they try a year at a prep school? While they delay, roster spots are being filled at every level. Those sitting on the sidelines too long just might miss their chance.