6 Students Share their Stories of Gapping During COVID-19

“How can you take a gap year during COVID-19?!” It’s the question we’ve been asked the most this year and it’s natural, of course, to wonder what kinds of experiences are available when our worlds have come to a standstill due to a global pandemic.

It’s not a surprise to us that taking a gap year is indeed possible. We have been working in experiential education for 25 years. We have been immersed in a field where risk management is the start and end of every day. This is an industry that addresses ethical, sustainable and safe programming in weekly meetings and national conferences. So while COVID has challenged us in ways we have never before faced, the gap year field has met them with incredible innovation, integrity and responsibility.

We have spent this year standing on any soapbox, podium or zoom room that we can get a hold of, touting the benefits and opportunities of gapping, yes during the pandemic … ESPECIALLY during the pandemic. Academic burnout, anxiety, and isolation were already at an all-time-high, and the pandemic has only intensified the need for students to feel connected to their studies, their peers, and to themselves.

So, we were thrilled when journalist Evan Thompson from The Best Schools reached out asking if we had students he could interview for his article: How Students Have Spent Their Gap Year During COVID-19. Don’t just take it from us, take it from them, the 6 featured students – including 3 J2Guides’ all-stars! – who made their way around the country and the world to make the most out of the toughest year.

Follow the stories of six students and their COVID gap years: Tyler Newman (New Jersey), Freya Rich (Massachusetts), Zack Stone (Georgia), Avery Arcuri (California), Cormac Thorpe (New York) and Molly Cohen (Vermont) at The Best Schools.


Jane Sarouhan runs J2Guides with her husband Jason. J2 Guides is a professional gap year consulting service that puts students at the center of the gap year planning process. Jane and Jason Sarouhan are the J2 behind J2Guides, and have been leaders in the field of experiential education for 25 years. They are nationally accredited Gap Year Association Consultants and keynote speakers at the USA Gap Year Fairs. Jane and Jason travel the country and the world to vet quality gap year opportunities, advise new programs on best practices, create experiential education curriculum and risk management workshops, and address media, conferences, and schools nationwide.

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