College, Interrupted: A reflection on my pandemic gap year

On the first day of the fall 2020 semester, I found myself staring at an empty Google Calendar. This blankness was a stark contrast from the visuals I had come to associate with August after two years of college: color-coordinated calendar events, syllabi scattered across university-issued desks, and crowded dining halls, classrooms, and libraries. There was a certain familiarity and nostalgia that always enveloped the beginning of a new school year—one I would not be experiencing for the first time in my life. Instead, come August 2020, I was welcoming a year-long leave of absence, a drastic change that I had decided upon after months of deliberation.

Students on Gap Years or Studying Remotely Look Forward to an In-Person Semester

Many students trudged through Zoom classes and bi-weekly surveillance testing last year — but others skipped out on a year online or studied at home.  They took on new jobs. They traveled the country or stayed home, unable to return to campus during the previous academic year. Now, after a year away, many students who studied remotely or took gap semesters are back on campus, adapting to the routines of in-person college classes once again — or for the first time. In the fall 2020 semester, over 600 undergraduate students took the semester off and over 120 incoming first-year students elected to take gap years. Many students on gap years found exciting and new ways to spend their time. 

100 Vaccination Centers Get a Boost from AmeriCorps

National service agency deploys disaster response teams nationwide to increase vaccine access in underserved communities, reduce wait times, and help get more people to vaccination sites

April 08, 2021 16:17 ET | Source: AmeriCorps

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — As part of President Biden’s commitment to safely vaccinate 200 million Americans before the end of April, the federal agency for national service, AmeriCorps, has deployed members to more than 99 vaccination centers and mobile clinics across the country to augment efforts by local, state, and federal agencies to get shots in arms of eligible adults. Members of the agency’s elite AmeriCorps Disaster Response Team, along with those from the FEMA Corps program, have filled gaps in locations with critical support needs and are providing the additional labor needed to ensure every American has information about and access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. FEMA Corps is a 10-year partnership between AmeriCorps and FEMA which creates unique teams within the National Civilian Community Corps of specially trained 18‐26‐year‐old participants who get the opportunity to serve communities impacted by disaster while gaining professional development experience.

FEMA Corps group visits West Virginia to work in state’s vaccination effort

PHILADELPHIA (WV News) — A group of young FEMA Corps workers has arrived in West Virginia to pitch in with the state’s successful vaccination effort. FEMA Corps is a partnership between the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps program. The partnership is a unique, team-based service program that gives 18‐ to 24‐year‐old participants the opportunity to serve communities hit by disaster while gaining professional development experience. “FEMA Corps is a great way to get real-world experience working a disaster,” said Janice Barlow, acting regional administrator of FEMA Region 3. “In this case, they get to work up-close with one of the best vaccination programs in the nation, if not the world. I’m excited for them.”

The Rise of the Adult Gap Year

Gap years are usually associated with the brink of adulthood. For those with the time and resources, taking several months to travel, volunteer, or simply relax is one way to reset before pursuing higher education or entering into the workplace. But some adults are breaking the mold by embarking on their own long-term adventures in the form of an adult gap year, also known as a career break. It can mean anything from a three- to six-month-long company-approved sabbatical to abandoning everything to hit the road for a year or longer. Take Amber Adams, who, at the age of 34, quit her job at a documentary company in New York City. After spending extended time with family, she went backpacking for seven months around South America and Europe. She drank wine in Mendoza, Argentina; spent time at a slow living retreat in Portugal; and partially funded her trip through Workaway—a platform where travelers can find free accommodations and meals around the world in exchange for a few hours of work at hostels, hotels, farms, and more.

Kate Middleton: How Duchess’ gap year travels prepared her for life with Prince William

KATE MIDDLETON, 39, is always the picture of poise and elegance whenever she travels on behalf of the Royal Family. It would seem it was her early ‘exhausting’ travel experiences before she met Prince William, 38, that have helped her in the role. Kate Middleton has travelled all over the world beside her husband Prince William. Much is expected of the royal pair on state visits and the trips are very much for business not pleasure, despite the broad smiles for the cameras. The Duchess of Cambridge’s travels haven’t always been thus. The mother-of-three took a gap year ahead of university and was forced “out of her comfort zone” when she joined Operation Raleigh and travelled to South America. However, it’s likely these early travels helped her with the many skills she has put to use on royal trips in her regal role. Author Marcia Moody shared insight into Kate’s teenage travels in her 2013 book Kate, A Biography. The 2001 trip to Chile was far from an easy ride.

Harvesting hemp, analyzing blood, and ‘being an adult’: Tigers take on the pandemic gap year

Before April, Dominic Dominguez ’25 never thought about taking a gap year. “I thought it was a dumb idea,” Dominguez said. “I always imagined, if you took a gap year, you would just be sitting around for a while. ”Nonetheless, Dominguez — among many other Princeton admits and students — has found fulfilling ways to spend his time. The Daily Princetonian spoke with five admits and current students about their decisions to take gap years, where that’s taken them, and what they’ve learned. 

5 ways to spend your gap year productively

What does one do during a gap year in 2021? With travelling out of the picture, students must find other avenues to turn their year off into a positive, memorable time. Higher education consultant Marguerite Dennis believes that students who defer 2021-22 enrollment may be more compelled to take a gap year. “I expect that the gap year experience will be transformed by colleges and universities offering credit-bearing opportunities for students who select this option,” she says. If you’re considering taking the year off, here are some ways you can make it count.

Boise State Pioneers Structured ‘Gap Year’ Program

gap year is time some students take away from the college classroom to volunteer, find themselves and generally prepare for the higher ed experience. Last fall, Boise State pioneered a structured gap year program to help retain students during the pandemic. Just before the pandemic hit, 23-year old Boise State student Autumn Lay hit a rough patch on her way to a degree. “I was taking classes that I enjoyed instead of classes that I had to take,” she said. “I was starting to stray away from mechanical engineering.” She began her time at Boise State with a clear path: NASA. Classes were already tough; remote learning made things harder. Her situation came to a head last spring with several failed classes.

Saint Anselm College sees biggest ever one-day spike in COVID-19

Saint Anselm College logged 14 cases of COVID-19 on Monday, its largest-ever one-day outbreak of the disease, according to the college website. Another three cases were confirmed over the weekend, prompting college officials to urge students to monitor themselves and to quarantine and contact the college Health Service at any sign of a cold or allergy symptom. All the on-campus isolation rooms are filled, and the college is now doubling up in the isolation rooms, according to Maura Marshall, the director of college health services, in a post on the college website. “We have to dial this back,” wrote Dean of Students Alicia Finn in a post on Wednesday. Twenty people tested positive in the first half of this week, a pace she called unsustainable. She urged students to remain on campus on weekends, wear masks after 5 p.m., and participate in sanctioned events such as a St. Patrick’s Day celebration Wednesday night and March Madness viewing.

College students hanging tight onto stimulus money

How do you plan to use the $1,400 stimulus payment?

Of the college students receiving stimulus checks, 62% plan to pocket or invest their new cash, according to a new Generation Lab/Axios poll. Why it matters: It’s money that won’t be fed back into the economy, and one indicator that the $1.9 trillion stimulus bill will benefit many individuals in a waythat won’t necessarily help the economy roar back.

Another Uncertain Admissions Cycle for International Students

Colleges are facing another admissions cycle marked by uncertainty about international student enrollments. It’s not just a matter of student interest; it’s also a matter of logistics. More than one year after the COVID-19 pandemic began in the United States, many U.S. embassies and consulates have not resumed regular visa processing. In China, which sends more international students to the U.S. than any other, the U.S. Embassy and consulates are only scheduling emergency appointments. International educators have warned of an “imminent crisis” in Chinese enrollments as prospective students in China are almost wholly unable to obtain visa interview appointments, with the backlog growing by the day.

The Ithacan: Softball player spends gap year off the grid gaining experience

From paddling down the rushing whitewaters of Idaho to scaling the steep canyons of Utah, sophomore softball player Miriam Maistelman left Kostrinsky Field behind this year to canoe, climb and hike through the wilderness out West. “I think it’s the athlete in me that searches for that rush,” Maistelman said. “It’s pretty taxing and demanding and challenging, but I’ve just chased that desire. For me right now, I would just be distracted [with online classes].” Maistelman initially planned on taking a gap semester during Fall 2020 to backpack and hike from Idaho to Arizona, but she expanded the semester into a full year when she was offered a job to live and work on a tree farm in Washington. Maistelman began her expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) canoeing in Idaho, then backpacking through Utah and Arizona. The farm she works at partners with Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), an organization that provides her a place to live while she logs and maintains the health of the forests surrounding her farm.

COVID-19 influenced Miami students to take a gap year

This year, some students at Miami University paused their education to let the pandemic pass. Bethany Perkins, director of admissions at Miami, said the university usually receives about 30 requests a year for students wishing to take a gap year. But due to COVID-19, the university received 220 official requests from first-year students wishing to take a year off.  Oliva Default, a rising sophomore kinesiology major, is one of the many students taking a gap year. “I just felt, with classes being online, I was not going to get the full experience and would be still spending a lot of money,” Default said.  For those taking gap years, financial strains leading to experiential learning are often the main cause, the New York Times reported. Many students across the country are struggling to pay tuition and do not want to spend such high amounts for a reduced college experience.

More Bad News for Student Mental Health

About half of college students nationally screened positive for depression or anxiety, or both, during the fall 2020 semester, according to a recently published report by professors who study mental health. The report includes results from a survey of nearly 33,000 students conducted by the Healthy Minds Network, a research organization based at the University of Michigan and Boston University that studies adolescent mental health. These new findings are consistent with previous surveys and research suggesting that students’ mental health has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

Students Forge New Paths With Novel Gap Year Experiences

When Oscar Martinez ’23 found himself sitting in front of a Zoom screen after Cornell’s campus-wide shut down in spring 2020, he realized that online learning wasn’t for him. As a transfer student, Martinez wanted to make the most of his two remaining years at Cornell, and virtual learning didn’t offer the college experience he was looking for. “I just wanted to dive into the community of people, to get to know them, to get to grow — because that’s what college is; that’s what college should be,” Martinez said.

With Full Statler, Isolated Students Trickle Into Off-Campus Hotels

After Cornell identified a cluster of COVID-19 cases Friday, a record-high number of students moved into isolation, forcing the University to expand capacity beyond the Statler Hotel and into nearby hotels for contact-traced and COVID-19 positive students.  Quarantine and isolation room capacity dipped to 38 percent on Monday evening, the lowest percentage so far during the pandemic. According to Cornell’s COVID-19 dashboard, 223 of 360 rooms have already been filled. 

The Growing Ithaca Resistance

The college wants to cut 116 full-time positions from its non-tenure-track faculty ranks, but alumni, students and professors are putting up a fight.

Colleen Flaherty  February 8, 2021

Ithaca College previously announced plans to cut more than 100 full-time faculty positions. Now that those cuts are actually happening — that numbers have become the names and faces of valued colleagues — campus opposition is ramping up. Faculty, student and alumni groups are highlighting what the college stands to lose in terms of academics and soul. They’re also accusing Ithaca of failing to make a compelling case for its drastic action.

National service can transform our country again, in many ways

Slater runs Youth on Their Own, which helps homeless teenagers in Tucson stay in school. She is a fellow of the OpEd Project, a nonprofit that promotes more diversity among thought leaders . National service programs are uniquely poised to address the significant challenges we face at this moment in our country’s history.

Instead of Staying Home, American Youth Are Answering the Call to Serve With AmeriCorps

230 energetic young adults from across the nation have piled into vans to begin a new adventure serving others through the AmeriCorps’ National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC). Two weeks ago, they deployed in 24 teams across the country, assisting community groups that are responding to the COVID-19 pandemic or implementing wildfire management in the West. “It feels amazing to know that during these unprecedented times I have the chance to make a real difference,” Wilhemina Solley told GNN.

The College Where 1 in 4 Students Got Coronavirus

At one small university, well-intentioned but insufficient preparations meant a fall semester of vast infection.

bout halfway through the fall semester, Jessica Floyd, a curly haired undergraduate studying nursing at Central Methodist University, started feeling exhausted. She had been studying for four exams that week, so she didn’t think too much about it. Then she took one of the regular coronavirus tests that Central Methodist required. It came back positive. That night, she started feeling weak and short of breath. “It came on fast,” she said.

A Brutal Tally: Higher Ed Lost 650,000 Jobs Last Year

Colleges and universities closed out 2020 with continued job losses, resulting in a 13-percent drop since last February. It was a dispiriting coda to a truly brutal year for higher ed’s labor force. Since the World Health Organization declared a pandemic, the U.S. Labor Department estimates that American academic institutions have shed a net total of at least 650,000 workers, according to preliminary, seasonally adjusted figures released on Friday. 

A Spike in Cheating Since the Move to Remote?

The number of questions asked and answered on the “homework help” website Chegg has skyrocketed since classes migrated online due to the pandemic, an increase that authors of a new study published in the International Journal for Educational Integrity link to a likely increase in cheating. Chegg, which has an honor code prohibiting cheating and which promotes itself as a site where students can get help on their homework, allows users to post a question to the site and receive an answer from a Chegg-identified expert “in as little as 30 minutes.” 

Australian Universities in ‘Deep Trouble’ as Borders Stay Closed

Australian universities may never recover their pre-pandemic market share of international student recruitment, a leading scholar has said, after the prospect of significant numbers of overseas students entering the country this year diminished. Daniel Andrews, the premier of the state of Victoria, said last month that “tens of thousands of international students coming back here is going to be incredibly challenging, if not impossible, this year,” adding that the state did not have the facilities to accommodate large numbers of students in quarantine.

Mass. Medical Students Training to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine

Experts say it will take an “army of vaccinators” to protect millions of Americans from COVID-19. Proudly helping to wage that war on coronavirus are about 400 students from UMass Medical School in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Student film project to have encore showing Jan. 24

A collection of student films, offering insights into Cornell student life during the pandemic, will be shown again later this month. First shown Dec. 18-20, “Off-Campus/On Screen” will have an encore presentation Jan. 24, from 2-4 p.m., followed by a live discussion with the filmmakers. Reserve your free ticket at The nine short films were created by students in collaboration with faculty and staff in the Department of Performing and Media Arts, in the College of Arts and Sciences. The stories came together in the PMA mainstage fall production, exploring Cornell life in the time of COVID-19.