How college students are reimagining the gap year in the COVID-19 era

Reggie Wade
·2-min read

Making the transition from high school to college can be difficult under normal circumstances, but amid the coronavirus pandemic many prospective students are opting for a gap year.

Kaplan’s “entrepreneur-in-residence” Megan O’Connor joined Yahoo Finance to speak on how the education company is helping to re-imagine the gap year through its new Boost program, an online program that provides students with hands-on experience at different companies, as well as the 1-on-1 guidance of a mentor.

“With the Boost program, we’re showing work exposure, meaning that we’re showing students all the different jobs that might be of interest to them within a career path. So instead of getting coffee or filing papers, they’re working on real projects with their peers and then getting to interact with executives at the companies that they work with,” said O’Connor.

Boost doesn’t come cheap — the 12-week program costs students about $4,000.* O’Connor says many students do not want to pay full-year college tuition for online learning. With the Boost program, she says, the students spend a fraction of a typical year’s tuition while gaining work experience.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 30, 2018: Kaplan Test Prep entrance to a branch location in downtown San Francisco.
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MARCH 30, 2018: Kaplan Test Prep entrance to a branch location in downtown San Francisco.

“What we’re seeing is that students want to gain some exposure to work. ... Programs like Boost help students get the work-readiness skills that they need,” she added.

O’Connor stressed that the program is not an internship. “What this is, is an opportunity for kids to have exposure to what real work looks like — work on projects with Kaplan, mentors, and instructors, and get to interact with executives.”

O'Connor tells Yahoo Finance that the Boost program is fitting a need of both students and employers. “Many college graduates do not feel like they are prepared to enter the workforce post-graduation. Employers are also reporting that when they bring in new employees straight out of college, they’re not ready for the working world. So figuring out how to get the tangible skills that one needs in order to enter the workforce is a priority of students,” she said.

*This article has been updated to reflect the correct price of the Boost program.

Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.

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