While the pressure to attend a four-year college, trade school, or enter the workforce can weigh heavy on high school seniors, the option for a “gap year” may be an option that facilitates career exploration while moving forward with purpose. Bob McKeown, Assistant Vice President of Enrollment Management at Niagara County Community College is a strong supporter for prospective students who are on the fence between committing to a full course load and cautiously planning their path.
McKeown explains, “Typically a gap year is a semester or year that students use for experiential learning and exploring educational options. It’s typically taken after high school and before post-secondary school. However, it can be taken at any time throughout your college career. Students use this time to deepen their professional and personal awareness.” And, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to alter plans later into the year, more students are considering a gap year closer to home.
NCCC offers more than 60 programs and many ways to attend class. While NCCC’s Sanborn campus and Niagara Falls Culinary Institute are home to state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, athletic facilities, and student spaces during regular daytime hours, the College also offers evening class formats and online learning options. There is truly something for everyone.
Topics span a diverse spectrum of liberal arts courses, hands-on technical training, allied health classes, and specialized hospitality and culinary arts experiences at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute. Students have the option to sample an array of subjects to find their passion without much of a cost to their time or their wallets. “NCCC is literally the ‘Smart Place to Start’ because students can earn credit online, continue to work their job, and save money simultaneously. This is also a good option for students who may be undecided. They can sign up for classes in several different academic majors, take some of the their core courses like English and Math, and then when they know the exact major they are interested in, they can switch into that specific program, complete the remaining required courses, and earn their degree,” says McKeown.
NCCC’s homegrown podcast, “Morning Thunder” recently discussed the idea of a gap year with Academic Center for Excellence host, Madison Ebsary. The riveting discussion focused on the value of earning credits online while exploring your options, saving money, and then transferring those credits to a four-year institution in the future. If you are interested in learning more about exploratory education and taking a gap year at NCCC, you can tune into Morning Thunder at http://niagaracc.suny.edu/morning-thunder/ to hear the full episode.
For those who are ready to begin their gap year, McKeown encourages future students to, “Apply to NCCC in order to get started. There is no application fee or obligation. Go to the NCCC Admissions page at http://www.niagaracc.suny.edu/admissions/ and click on the “Apply Now” tab in the upper right-hand corner.” You are also encouraged to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to see how much financial aid you would qualify for. NCCC Admissions counselors and Financial Aid representatives are happy to guide you through the application process and talk to you about your options.