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Coronavirus Forcing College-Bound Seniors To Consider Taking Gap Year Due To Various Uncertainties

UPPER SADDLE RIVER, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- With college deadlines approaching and the uncertainty of whether or no some will be in session, some students are wondering if this is the time for a gap year.

CBS2's Hazel Sanchez spoke with an expert about what parents should be considering.

High school senior Jessica Fiorillo is excited to attend Florida State University in the fall.

"I'm hoping to start on time," Jessica said.

But with all the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, no one knows for sure if campuses will open.


With some college tuition deposits due by the end of the week, many new college-bound students are considering other options. Fiorillo's parents have a lot to think about, because she's a triplet. Her brother, Michael, and sister, Nicole, were both accepted to Penn State University.

"We've been talking about maybe doing a gap year," mother Jill Fiorillo said.

"It's kind of hard to tell what the future holds because no college has made a decision whether the fall will be virtual or not. So, I'm definitely considering a gap year if the first semester is online," Jessica Fiorillo added.

MOREExperts: Families Should Begin Negotiating With Colleges For More Financial Aid Due To COVID-19

Counselor Julia Rogers, board president of the Gap Year Association, said students considering taking a year off should:

  • Reframe their thinking. Think of a gap year as something your gaining, not losing by not going to college right away.
  • Set personal goals: learn a new skill, a language, do some career exploration.
  • Research options that fit those goals, including college credit courses, internships, volunteering, and possible travel.
  • Network with people in your chosen field.

"The gap year is really an opportunity to be able to be flexible and allow you to learn and grow on your own terms, so it's pretty exciting," Rogers said.

MORECoronavirus Update: High School Seniors Concerned Over Meeting Graduation Requirements, Scholarship Eligibility

Rogers said a gap year may not be ideal for everyone and could be risky if a college is offering a student a strong financial package.

"If you ask for a deferral they'll say, OK, we'll guarantee your spot for next year, but you're going to have to reapply or we can't guarantee that merit aid, because it's a new pool of students they're considering you alongside. That's the risk," Rogers said.

The Fiorillos said the colleges are giving them until July and August to decide. They're encouraging their children to choose what path is right for them.

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