Gap year benefits: during COVID-19 and beyond

    Article by Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Posted: September 25, 2020

    The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the course of education and made taking a gap year more relevant than ever before. Here’s more about gap year benefits during the time of COVID-19 and beyond.

    We all know that COVID-19 has created a ripple effect, causing most businesses and educational institutions worldwide to temporarily close their doors. So, getting set up with a solid online curriculum will give you the opportunity to receive a quality education from home.

    Let’s find out why this alternative form of education is what you need during your COVID-19 gap year.

    Why is taking a gap year a good idea right now?


    According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), almost 70% of the world’s students aren’t attending lessons on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    Safety concerns around public spaces and gatherings have created an unprecedented demand for alternative learning programs – like online learning programs and socially-distanced classroom setups. 

    And, besides the logistics of learning during the pandemic, there’s also the effects it has on our well-being. One psychologist states that many students are reporting feelings of general frustration, isolation, and grief – either due to loss of loved ones, or the loss of the ability to live a “normal life”.

    Further reading: How indoor houseplants can boost your health and well-being during your time at home

    But, is it possible to learn well and look after your well-being at the same time, given the current global situation?

    Well, there are gap year opportunities that offer an educational safe-space, where you can gain valuable knowledge and skills, and add to your education even during the strictest lockdown. 

    Here are some of the best gap year benefits that you can experience first-hand right now. 

    Three gap year benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic

    1) You can get involved in the best online learning programs


    The benefits of taking a gap year aren’t just because these programs are offered online. 

    Gap year opportunities have been around for ages. And, since many of them are offered internationally, online gap year ideas aren’t a new concept either. 

    The organisations that develop these types of gap year opportunities – like gap year online learning programs and virtual gap year internships – offer expertise in various fields like conservation, teaching and women’s empowerment. These specialised opportunities offer the best online learning programs. 

    2) You’ll be comforted by a safe learning space

    One of the best benefits of taking a gap year right now is the fact that you can tick off your educational and COVID-19 social-distancing needs at the same time.

    This is because taking a gap year can also mean gaining experience right where you are – and this can include any socially-distanced space where you feel most comfortable. Without these worries, you’re free to focus on mastering a new set of skills.



    3) You can build on your well-being

    Once you’re pleased with your learning experience, it’s much easier to take back control of your day-to-day life and build on your well-being.

    Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, taking a gap year was shown to be beneficial for well-being. How?

    Well, gap year opportunities offer the chance to broaden your understanding of the world and add to your confidence and skill-set. By expanding your worldview, you’ll gain a better idea of how communities, countries and regions function, and find out how you can contribute to global efforts in a meaningful way. 

    One study describes how participating in meaningful work is a strong predictor of well-being. This is because participants are able to make a positive contribution to global issues, and practise mindfulness while making an impact.

    And, the real-world context offered on online gap year opportunities takes learning beyond theory and makes what you learn much more relevant. This type of learning experience can up your sense of purpose and motivate you to get involved in making an impact in other ways – which will build on your well-being even more! 

    By taking advantage of these gap year benefits available right now, you’ll elevate your well-being and be able to take on each day in a better way. 


    Why do you need an alternative to traditional education?

    If you’re racing through coursework online, how well does the material stick in your mind? And would you say that the learning experience is stellar? 

    These are questions faced by many learners who’ve had to move their classroom learning experience to an online platform. The truth is, we can’t expect the same approach to education that we’ve been using for centuries to work under these entirely new circumstances.

    With reports stating that the COVID-19 pandemic could be around until 2022 – and possibly longer – now is the perfect time to switch to an alternative learning program that will benefit you during this period. 



    By taking a new approach, you’ll keep building on your education despite global health concerns. That’s why GVI established virtual internships and courses that are optimised for online. You can gain the knowledge you need and gain valuable insight into your future career without putting your safety or the safety of community partners at risk. 

    The benefits of alternative learning programs beyond the pandemic

    By getting involved in the best alternative learning programs, the gap year benefits you’ll gain can last a lifetime.

    And what are the best alternative learning programs? Well, they’re the ones that can adapt to changing circumstances. So, they have a lot of value to offer during uncertain times. 

    This means that whether the pandemic settles down, or continues into the future, being part of a top-quality online learning program means building on your education in a way that will benefit you in the future. 

    Here are three gap year benefits beyond the pandemic that will add to your future success:

    1) You’ll build on your skill-set

    Gap year opportunities offer the perfect setup for you to gain personal and professional skills that are useful in every aspect of your life. 



    For example, if you take part in an online learning program in women’s empowerment, you won’t just learn field-specific theory, you’ll also develop a deeper understanding of sustainable practices. 

    And, if you get involved in a marine conservation gap year internship, you’ll learn the best ways to work with community members and partner organisations while picking up on essential marine conservation theory. 

    If you’re still a student, taking a gap year means experiencing learning opportunities that will sharpen your ability to think critically and problem-solve. 

    And these benefits of taking a gap year offer a deeper learning experience – one that will add to your learning capabilities when you resume your formal studies. 

    Gap year opportunities also give you an early start to building on your career in the way you prefer. 

    You can add to your skills with an at-home online learning program focused on communications and fundraising. Why not sign up for a study-from-home sustainability online course, where you’ll gain skills you can use in many different fields? You can even take a more serious approach and get involved in online gap year internships.

    There’s no limit to building on your personal and professional development while taking a gap year! 

    2) Gain confidence

    And, one of the best advantages of online learning while taking a gap year is the built-in practical experience. 

    This may mean working through real-life case studies on an online learning program, or completing tasks like analysing data while working on one of our virtual gap year internships.



    By gaining hands-on experience while taking a gap year, you’ll also become more confident in making contributions within a work setting, working in a team, and working independently.

    Gaining confidence is one of those gap year benefits that are a plus for both personal and professional development.

    3) Stay positive about your studies

    While others may be worried about whether or not they’ll write their end-of-year exams for university, you can rest assured that online learning programs are clearly structured and uninterrupted. 

    This won’t only set your mind at ease when it comes to your learning experience, it’s also a great way to step away from your studies without worrying about leaving a gap on your resume – because you can count on completing these online learning courses. 

    And, as soon as social distancing is a thing of the past, you can start up your studies whenever you feel comfortable – with an arsenal of new skills to boot! 

    Gap year opportunities for the future


    There are tons of gap year ideas you can jump into right now. But, there’s also a way to deepen your gap year experience once borders open up, by taking a gap year abroad. 

    Whether you’re looking to get involved in wildlife conservation, marine conservation, teaching, or women’s empowerment, there are gap year opportunities abroad that offer every opportunity to gain gap year benefits. 

    Find out about gap year benefits first-hand by signing up for one of our gap year online learning programs, and check out our gap year programs abroad so that you can prepare for the future too! 

    Tasneem Johnson-Dollie is a contributor for GVI, and an alum of the GVI Writing Academy. The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs development editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here.

    By Tasneem Johnson-Dollie

    Tasneem Johnson-Dollie is a travel writer living in South Africa. She has experience in public health nutrition and worked as a dietician before launching her writing career. She loves bringing her passion for public health and sustainable development to every article she writes. Her travels around South Africa as well as to India, Australia, and Saudi Arabia have fueled her passion for exploration.