Because of COVID-19 pandemic, more students in SC could take gap years

Colleges and universities in the state have noticed an increase in students deferring their enrollment this semester.
Updated: Aug. 20, 2020 at 2:49 PM EDT
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ANDERSON COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - Luke Sizemore had plans to attend a four-year college in South Carolina this fall.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he had to adjust his plans.

“This spring, I began seriously looking into taking a gap year,” he said.

Sizemore, who has dyslexia, said when one of his classes transitioned to fully online instruction this spring, he struggled. He didn’t want to jeopardize his scholarships over poor grades if the university he was attending transitioned to a being online because of an outbreak.

“I couldn’t afford to take that risk mainly because I didn’t believe in my ability to succeed online,” he said.

Sizemore graduated from high school this year as well. He said he wasn’t too sure what he wanted to pursue as a career just yet.

“Those two things coupled together led to my decision,” he said.

Sizemore isn’t alone. The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education said colleges and universities in the state have noticed an increase in students deferring their enrollment this semester. President and Executive Director Rusty Monhollon said the COVID-19 pandemic is playing a role in that.

“Many students seem to be taking that route. They would like to take the semester off and see how things look in spring,” he said.

Monhollon said they’re expecting enrollment to dip at some colleges and universities. He said gap-year students are one of the reasons for the decline.

“Several are expecting lower declining enrollment by as much as 10 to 13%,” said Monhollon.

He did say some institutions anticipate their enrollment to stay about the same and a few are expecting a small increase this fall. He said, if conditions improve in time for the spring, some of those students taking a gap year could enroll.

Sizemore said he’s looking forward to attending college in 2021. This year, he’ll be working and doing mission work as well, if possible. He said he was also assured by his school he would still have his scholarships.

“I’m excited to have time to pursue some passions and figure out some ideas on what I’d like to pursue in college,” Sizemore said.

The state Commission on Higher Education said about half of the universities in South Carolina are doing some form of in-person instruction to start the school year.

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