With the start of the pandemic making the accessibility and opportunity for education appear bleak, electing to take a gap year instead of attending college was an attractive option to students. While many may view taking a gap year as the intelligent choice this semester, the Campus Chancellor of Ivy Tech’s Valparaiso location, Aco Sikoski, said that receiving an excellent education during the COVID-19 pandemic is possible.
There are several Course Delivery Options this fall: traditional, blended traditional, blended online, virtual, online, and a new option called “Learn Anywhere.” These options provide students the opportunity to tailor their schedules to fit their needs and comfort level in the midst of the pandemic.
“There are so many opportunities as we have developed different ways of conducting these classes, so there should be no reason for students to take a gap year,” Sikoski said. “Statistics show that when students take gap years it creates more challenges coming back to college. It’s more difficult because you aren’t in the academic mode anymore.”
Vice Chancellor for Student Success Dr. Countance Anderson said that those who chose the gap year option because of the availability for community volunteering opportunities or work experience do not have to put their education on hold to get involved in those areas.
“In my experience, students take the gap year because they want to do some community learning, studying abroad, or maybe get work experience,” Dr. Anderson said. “Students that connect with Ivy Tech can join a student organization that can give them that same experience. While doing coursework, they can still be connected to the community, give back, and get that work or service experience.”
“We are still taking new students,” Dr. Anderson said. “If they started a gap year in August and are thinking, ‘You know, I could get a class or two in before the end of the year,’ we want to have those conversations and get them through the advising pieces and into the registration.”
For those who have already started a gap year but are having second thoughts, it’s not too late to get in some credits before the end of the semester. Ivy Tech offers an 8-week model, so students can sign up for the second round of 8-week courses, which starts on October 26. This 8-week model is not available for upper-level courses, but it has proven to be a great option for students hoping to take lower-level courses and sneak in a few credits before the fall semester ends.
“During the academic year, we have five starting dates in this 8-week model,” Sikoski said. “Our goal is to offer 80 percent of the courses in 8-week sessions and 20 percent of the courses in 16-week sessions. We want to get to this point because the outcomes and graduation rates are higher with the 8-week sessions. We have found that students are more focused in these classes. Our statistics show that students taking a 16-week class tend to get burnt out by the tenth week. With the 8-week courses, it’s a bit more focused. When you shrink the sixteen weeks into eight weeks, it is much more effective all the way around.”
To learn more about the 8-week course model and how you can transition from a gap year to taking credits at Ivy Tech, visit their website here.