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Did you take a ‘Pandemic Gap Year?’

By BY MARYANNE HOGAN, The College Auntie - | Sep 24, 2020

Many students who were ready to head off to college for the first time this fall made the difficult decision to stay home and wait it out until they could move on campus, take classes in person and enjoy their first year of college in the traditional way.

While the disappointment of not being able to start the next chapter of life is difficult, there is another thing to consider: what are you going to do for the next year?

In normal times, I would suggest getting a part-time job and saving up for college expenses; but, as we all know, these are not normal times, and there are few, if any, part-time jobs to be had. So, what can you do to keep busy and not go crazy for the next year?

The first thing that comes to mind is to look at the bright side of this situation. We live in one of the most glorious places on Earth, surrounded by sun and fresh air, and on Maui, we are thankfully blessed with a fairly low COVID rate of infection. This makes keeping yourself physically fit a lot easier than for some.

If you were used to playing on a team or working out for a sport, you can still do all that within the confines of socially distancing. This will be especially important if you are planning to play a sport in college. Maybe organize a few teams to play baseball, start a tennis ladder, head out to the pool and do some laps.

Don’t let yourself get out of shape, and enjoy the knowledge that it is more than okay to head to the beach or open parks to play. But be smart and stay safe… wear a mask — protect yourself and your kupuna.

Think about taking an online class or two. Was there a class that you thought might be especially difficult that you might do better in if it were the only class you were taking? Now would be a great time to get that one out of the way.

Is there a particular requirement that you would like to complete, like a language or introductory math class?

What you want to make sure of is that whatever you choose to take will be transferable to the school where you ultimately plan to attend, and will fulfill the requirement you want to fulfill. Check with your college admissions counselor to find out how to determine transferability. Don’t let your brain get out of shape either!

Another thing you can do is volunteer. Our community is always in need. The Maui Humane Society can almost always use help. The beach can always use some clean up. The food banks need help gathering and distributing food, especially now. In the winter, there is the annual whale count. Offer to care for kids whose parents are struggling to make ends meet but still need to go to work as an essential worker. Do errands for someone who is not safely able to get out into the public due to age or underlying health problems.

I know that many of you did volunteer work in high school to complete service hours, or to be able to use it on your applications. Now you can do it for the love of your home and help meet the needs of our Maui ohana. You can get together with a few friends, safely, and have fun in service to those in need.

Whatever you choose to do, just try to stay upbeat and productive. There will never be another time in your life when you are afforded this kind of free time to enjoy and make a difference.

You worked hard to get to college, and while you have to wait what may seem like an unbearably long year until you can get there, it will be time to go before you know it. Be physically, mentally and emotionally ready for the transition time when it arrives.

Maryanne Hogan is an Independent College Admissions Consultant working with students on Maui. Visit her website thecollegeauntie.com for more information or to make an appointment.