Why he chose to take a gap semester.


Kevin Ashley, Staff Writer

After the fall 2020 semester, college students had an important ultimatum: Return to university for the spring semester and struggle with online and hybrid learning, or take a semester off and hope the fall 2021 semester would be better. 

Jackson Hicks, a University of Texas in Austin student with a major in advertising, is one of many students who took a gap year with the hopes that in-person learning will be back for the fall 2021 semester.

“I took a gap semester because most of my classes were going to be online for the fall semester,” Hicks said. “I had done that in the fall of 2020 like most people had, and I realized it wasn’t going to work for most of my classes.”

In the fall of 2020, many students took a gap semester instead of taking online classes. COD, for example, lost 12% of its regular enrollment because of people wanting to wait. However, the vaccine rollout for COVID-19 hadn’t happened yet. Now, the CDC reports 15%of the U.S. population is vaccinated, which brings hope for an in-person fall semester to a new high for many waiting students. 

“A lot of my education in online classes(during the fall) was very different depending on the class,” said Hicks.  “For general education classes, I don’t believe it would have been all that different in-person. However, the classes for my major were lacking. The intimacy and connection that you get with instructors, (and) also with your peers, you can’t really get online.” 

Hicks wants classes that will require him to talk to professionals, attain internships and build connections while learning new skills, which he believes would be difficult to do if these classes aren’t in-person.

Taking a gap semester isn’t an easy choice. Taking a gap semester usually leads people to travel abroad or get a full-time job for extra money or internships and volunteering however none of that is possible during the pandemic. Also, you run the risk of falling behind your classmates and entering a job market that is uncertain at best. However taking a gap semester can also give people time to reassess their position and find out more about themselves or in non-pandemic times: travel, volunteer, get internships or jobs for extra income. Now that Hicks isn’t taking classes, he has to find other ways to keep him occupied. 

“I’ve been doing a lot of website design for people, more particularly, for owners of smaller businesses,” said Hicks. 

To stay somewhat in the field of his degree, Hicks has devoted more time to helping out family friends with small business or practicing his guitar. Although, fighting off the boredom still hasn’t been easy.

Ultimately, Hicks is hopeful for the fall semester as it will give him the chance to continue his education, earn his degree and find a career.