NH High School Graduate Taking Gap Year to Travel Amid Pandemic

"Three of my friends are paying almost full tuition to just sit at home and take online classes," Sami King said.

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Traditional college experiences are being turned upside down amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and so, too, is the traditional path toward a degree. More and more students are deciding to defer their first year of college and do something different instead.

A recent high school graduate in Hooksett, New Hampshire, is on a quest to make the best of an unusual year. Like most young kids, Sami King had an idea of how life is supposed to look -- go to school, go to more school and then get a job.

But King says that just didn't seem right to her, especially in the age of COVID-19.

"Three of my friends are paying almost full tuition to just sit at home and take online classes," she said.

As more colleges go fully remote this fall, King says there’s no better time to take a gap year.

"A lot of parents were like oh she taking a gap year she’s never going to go back to school … 

King's parents were skeptical, so she started researching and found two well-established programs. She leaves New Hampshire in September to explore Hawaii for two months, and then departs again in January for Cape Town, South Africa.

Sue O'Connell sat down with Kelly Anne Smith, personal finance reporter at Forbes Advisor, to talk about gap year options high school seniors may be more inclined to consider with uncertainty hanging over college campuses.

King will set sail to the Caribbean with other students from around the world with the same idea.

"Marine biology is what I think I’m going to study so I’m definitely excited to be living in the ocean for three months," she said.

King has deferred the College of Charleston until the fall of 2021, opting for some real-world experience first. She says she's making the most of the pandemic, and her parents couldn't be prouder. 

While King is well aware the pandemic could change all of her travel plans -- something that would disappoint her -- she says in that event she would work and make some money before going to college next fall.

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