This will be an uncertain year on college campuses due to the Covid-19 crisis. After last spring’s abrupt end to college life as we know it, many parents and students are left wondering if paying the astronomically high price of college is going to be worth it in the 2020-2021 academic year. In this episode, we explore the idea of taking a gap year or deferring college until campuses are able to provide a safe residential experience for students including in-person classes.
With travel off the table as a viable gap year option, my panel of experts and I talk through the merits of going to code school and then working for 6 months. I’m particularly excited about this idea as it checks all the boxes for me both as a parent and as a career coach: It enables students to have a productive year, gain a future-proof skill set and not only repay the investment in their education but also put some money away for the future. The financials make a lot of sense on this.
Our panel for today’s discussion includes:
- Abby Bittler, M. Ed., College Advisor at Optima Educational
- Jessica Mitsch, Co-Founder and CEO of Momentum
- Mason Whitaker, Project Manager at Sunrise Technologies.
Abby coaches students and families through the college selection process, Jessica is the Co-Founder and CEO of Momentum and Mason is a code school and college graduate who is currently crushing it in the career category thanks to his software development skills.
We start the conversation talking about the impact of COVID-19 on higher education. The college residential housing experience seems questionable and for that reason many students have decided to stay closer to home. The economic impact of the absence of international students in particular but also many domestic students will be a huge hit to colleges that were already on shaky financial ground.
And with many people out of work, affordability is going to be at the forefront for parents in making decisions for college this fall. Jessica shared that the cost of college tuition in her life lifetime alone has gone up 160%. This could lead to a more a la cart approach to education where people may turn to higher education throughout their careers instead of just at the beginning. For example, 70% of the students who attend Momentum already have their degree but are coming back to learn new skills and sharpen their existing skills.
Higher education was ripe for change before COVID-19, but now Covid-19 seems to be quickening the pace of change coming to higher education.
In addition, many colleges were forced to do a very quick pivotto operating online and they were not equipped for it. This led to a rare glimpse inside college classes for many parents who were surprised by what they were paying for.
One of the only things we can say for certain right now is that your experience at college this year will be very different. Some of the changes colleges are planning on making for this fall include:
- Mandating the wearing of masks
- Increased social distancing in dorms and classrooms
- Smaller class sizes
- Fully remote classes or a hybrid model with some in-person and some online classes
- Testing and contact tracing and quarantine dorms for sick students.
This is where the discussion around taking a gap year comes into play and waiting college out a year starts to seem like a really good idea!
If you are planning on taking a gap year, the first thing you should do is contact your university to find out what their policy is to ensure you don’t lose credits or scholarships.
Options for students taking a gap year:
- Because of travel restrictions, the typical gap year experience may be significantly different
- Research volunteer opportunities in your hometown
- Learn to code at Momentum’s 16-week immersive software development program and then work as a software developer for 6-9 months.
Momentum is handling their transition to digital differently than many schools. Since they are training students for a job, they treat their online schedule like a workday done on zoom instead of what many schools are offering which is some slides and an assignment. It’s very structured and the teaching is live, a key differentiator from what passes for online learning at many higher education institutions.
The Momentum program is a 16-week program with monthly start dates, including the next start on July 13th.
Mason Whitaker went through code school during the summer before he started college. Now at 24, he’s a Project Manager at Sunrise Technologies where he leads implementations of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for the manufacturing division of a worldwide service organization. He shares his incredible story of why he chose to attend code school and the impact it had on his college experience and career. Coding provided him with entrepreneurial opportunities that set him apart from his peers and enabled him to jump headfirst into a rewarding professional career.
If you’re looking for options to be productive and spend your time and money wisely during an uncertain academic year, learning to code at Momentum is a great option and a great way to set yourself up for success for a lifetime.