Defiance College responds to COVID-19 uncertainties with gap year series

July 29, 2020

DEFIANCE, Ohio - The many uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 have caused a growing number of high school graduates to have reservations about attending higher education institutions in the fall of 2020. In response, Defiance College has implemented an interactive, online gap year series that will explore community challenges and responses through the lens of COVID-19.

"Gap year" is a term used for recent high school graduates who want to take a break from traditional education. Gap year students want more than couch time - these students want to gain knowledge in a specific area, serve a community, or discover themselves. Upon returning to a traditional educational institution, gap year students often have a greater sense of purpose and commitment. This course series offers students the opportunity to develop academic skills and a sense of self-efficacy while working in collaboration with their own community.

"Defiance College's McMaster School for Advancing Humanity has been successfully engaged in community-based research for nearly two decades. This gap year course series will utilize the lessons learned from the McMaster School's proven model," stated Mary Ann Studer, dean of the McMaster School and gap year instructor. "The series structure supports high impact student learning in a local community context. This is an opportunity for a young adult to make a difference by applying skills to address a community challenge in these trying times."

The Defiance College gap year series is made up of four separate courses: "COVID-19's Impact on Food Security," "The Economic Impact: Protecting the Poor During COVID-19," "COVID-19's Impact on Education Equity and Inclusiveness," and "The Capacity of Communities to Manage the Global Health Risk of COVID-19." Each course is completely online, eight weeks long, and one credit hour.

Once enrolled, students will have opportunities to develop research skills, improve their written and oral communication skills, and gain a greater understanding of real world challenges facing their communities.

Gap year students typically travel to engage in various educational activities. However, with restrictions caused by COVID-19, that may not be possible in some instances. With this in mind, Defiance College designed its gap year series to be interactive yet close to home. Over half of each course is focused on developing relationships that support a student's local community. The goal is for students to get to know their community, its strengths and resources, and then to understand the community's challenges and needs. Defiance College wants students to utilize their knowledge to better serve their community.

This gap year series in sociology allows students to choose just a single course or they can take up to all four courses in the series. Defiance College has formatted the series so any credits earned are eligible to transfer to other institutions. In an effort to aid those impacted by COVID-19, DC has kept the tuition as low as possible at $525 for each eight week section with no additional fees.

The first section, titled "COVID-19's Impact on Food Security," begins on August 24, 2020. For more information or to apply, please visit Defiance College will still be welcoming traditional college students to campus in the fall.

Chartered in 1850, Defiance College is an independent, liberal arts-based institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate programs of study as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of service and engagement. The College is guided by the four pillars of its mission: To Know, To Understand, To Lead, and To Serve. The College website is