Why You Shouldn’t Put Your Education On Hold — Or Settle for Online Learning
Since the pandemic began in early 2020, more and more people with plans for higher education have decided to put college on hold. Some of us figured this would all last a few weeks, months, or even a single year. Today, many of us are starting to rethink the idea of waiting out the pandemic to start college. Maybe waiting isn’t the best choice.
Contracting and spreading COVID-19 is a valid fear, and we should all take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, waiting to start your college education—or opting for a completely online program—brings on new risks you may not have considered.
Waiting for the Pandemic to End Could Cost You
The truth is that no one really knows how quickly the United States will be able to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control. As of November, things are not looking up. Most reputable epidemiologists agree that we could all be social distancing and wearing masks well into 2021. Putting off your education until then may sound harmless, until you consider the following costs:
Monetary Losses Due to Delaying College
A recent study found that delaying college because of the pandemic could lead to a potential loss of $90,000 in lifetime earnings! That’s because students that start college earlier will graduate earlier. Those graduates will spend more time making a greater salary in the workforce than if they had taken a year or two off after high school, working a restaurant or retail job.
The idea of ‘losing’ money you never actually had might be a little confusing. That’s because it’s more like ‘missing out.’ The principle is called opportunity cost, and you can think of it like passing up an investment opportunity that later turns out to be highly profitable. By investing in your education sooner, you could add an additional profitable year to your career.
You’ll be Less Likely to Start or Finish College if You Delay
Gap years are a common phenomenon whereby people decide to take a break between high school and college. Taking a break is tempting, but the truth is that many prospective students that take a gap year never end up going to college. The longer students take off between high school and college, the less likely they are ever to come back.
What’s more, researchers have found that students who take a year off are 64% less likely to complete college if they do end up enrolling. It’s easy to tell yourself you’ll beat those odds, but it’s probably even easier to just enroll right now.
Pros and Cons of Online Learning to Avoid COVID-19
Online learning has presented itself as the solution to higher education during the pandemic. By studying in the comfort of our own homes, we can avoid risk associated with COVID-19. While it works for some students and some degree programs, online learning does have some limitations to consider.
Pros of Online Learning
- Reduced risk of viral transmission
- Learning from the comfort of your home
- Learning on your own time
Cons of Online Learning
- Lack of hands-on learning makes for inadequate or impossible training in fields like healthcare, Cosmetology and Massage Therapy
- Learning from home may be distracting and concentration could be difficult with family members around
- It may be difficult to connect with your peers and instructors, or get extra help when you need it
- It may be difficult to motivate yourself to complete your coursework
Some smaller colleges, like IBMC College, have shown that they are willing to take extra precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19. With the right preventative measures to protect our students, staff and guests and how in-person learning is the clear choice for those seeking a more hands-on career. What’s more, flexible scheduling (day or night) makes it easier for anyone to attend when it works for their schedule.
Don’t Put Your Life on Hold
If you were looking for an excuse not to attend college in person, the pandemic is like a blank check—run with it. But if you’re serious about starting a career you’ll love, why waste a year or more of your life waiting?