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How To Keep Learning When College Isn’t An Option

Written by CB Community

It’s safe to say that all our best-laid plans have well and truly gone astray in 2020.

The global Coronavirus pandemic has taken our idea of normal and redefined it over and over again.

Students have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.

From having to miss out on the important milestones like school dances, graduation ceremonies, football games and theatre productions, to the more mundane occurrences we’ve grown to miss like raising your hand in a classroom, hanging out with friends by the lockers, riding on a bus or being able to hug your friends at the end of the day.

For college students and students that would have started college in 2020, plans you’d had in place for what seems like forever are suddenly put on pause.

You might have been planning to move across the country to study, move into a dorm, meet new friends and classmates and, suddenly you’re facing the possibility of having to study college courses online in your childhood bedroom.

For students who have already been in college and are facing the prospect of returning home to study, the loss will perhaps be even more keenly felt.

Having tasted the freedom of living out of home, being able to define your own schedule, live away from your parents’ watchful gaze – how jarring is it to suddenly find yourself returned home?

College will not be ‘college’ in 2020. Considering college fees will likely not be lowered to reflect the fact that students will not be getting the ‘real college experience’ many students are considering deferring their courses or pursuing other learning opportunities while we all patiently wait for the world to return to something resembling ‘normal’.

Here are three great ways to keep learning when college is suddenly no longer an option:

Short Courses

The fact that college classes are taking place online this year has many of us are thinking about pursuing more affordable online options.

If you think about it typically, when you’re paying tuition for a college or university your fees are contributing to the upkeep of the grounds, access to facilities and social opportunities – so while we’re all stuck in our homes with nothing to do but learn we may as well only be paying for the learning itself!

Many online education providers offer online short courses that will furnish you with real-life qualifications that will help you get one step closer to working in the field of your dreams.

Research online business courses, creative courses, engineering and even health industry courses and by simply enrolling online you’ll get yourself one step closer to being accredited as an allied health worker, a marketing coordinator, a fashion designer or perhaps as an engineering apprentice.


Umberto Eco once said, ‘the person who doesn’t read lives only one life. The reader lives 5,000. Reading is immortality backwards.’

So, while the pandemic may feel like it’s put life on pause for a good while, you can indulge in the escapism of a good book and get a peek into someone else’s life for a while.

Reading is a great way to learn and to expand our field of knowledge and broaden our personal worldview and this year, for the first time, it seems like we’ve got nothing but time on our hands.

While it’s incredibly valid to miss parties, pep rallies and the people who made them worthwhile this is also a great time to start a book club – to keep your mind stimulated and your social life alive.

If you’re stuck for inspiration check out these great lists of female authors whose work you should read before you die and of great titles from BIPOC authors.

Take A Gap Year

Traditionally a ‘Gap Year’ refers to taking a year off, to travel, see the world, find yourself and bank up some life experience before you commit to a couple of years of serious study.

While we absolutely love travelling, we think it’s one of the best ways to open yourself up to new experiences that will expand your horizons and push you to consider things in a way you wouldn’t have before, it’s not a real option at the present moment.

Hopefully, sometime in the next year, travel will return (perhaps not to normal but to whatever passes for normal in a post-2020 world) and you’ll be able to travel but, regardless, a gap year is still a fulfilling idea.

Take a year off, pursue a passion, explore your own backyard (aka. your own state or country), take time to do the things you were always too busy to do.

Having a year off to mature, discover things about yourself and really interrogate the idea of what matters to you will also help you down the line when you’re deciding which line of study to pursue.

In short, 2020 has thrown us all for a loop but, even if you’re not heading to college this year as you would have expected to, you can still keep learning!

About the author

CB Community

Passionate members of the College Basics community that include students, essay writers, consultants and beyond. Please note, while community content has passed our editorial guidelines, we do not endorse any product or service contained in these articles which may also include links for which College Basics is compensated.