Startups eye college-aged students taking gap year during coronavirus pandemic

Colleges welcoming students back to campus amid coronavirus pandemic

Iona College president Dr. Seamus Carey discusses how his college has reopened safely after being one of the first universities to close its doors when the pandemic broke out.

Startups are recruiting would-be college students taking a year off during the coronavirus pandemic with more schools going virtual only.

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Some freshman-aged students who won’t be able to take college courses inside a classroom, catch a football game or partake in Greek life and parties this fall as a result of COVID-19 are taking time off to look for internships and paid work instead, research suggests. So some Silicon Valley-based companies are taking advantage of the influx of potential new hires.

Startups are catering to college-aged students considering taking a gap year during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)

Venture firm Contrary Capital, which has raised money from Tesla and Reddit, is offering up $100,000 to five teams of entrepreneurs who take a year off from school to start a company, Bloomberg reported. 

Other companies, like food-delivery service Postmates, will consider letting its summer interns on its robot-delivery team continue working through the school year should they choose to take the gap year, while web security startup Lumos will shell out close to $80,000 for four-fulltime college-aged students to work on projects during the school year, according to Bloomberg

It’s an attractive and perhaps even lucrative option for many students who may not think it's worth shelling out thousands of dollars per semester to be learning via Zoom and forgoing the actual college experience.

Indeed, in May, 16% of high school seniors said they would take a gap year, according to a survey by higher education market research firm Art & Science Group. And colleges and universities across the country continue to grapple with how to safely open to students amid recent outbreaks.


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which had resumed in-person classes, reported COVID-19 cases in its student housing including dorms, a private apartment complex and in a fraternity.  Now, classes have been moved to online-only, the university announced on Monday.


And other colleges like Penn State University are even giving students agreements to sign saying they acknowledge the dangers and risks of COVID-19 ahead of returning to class, which some have called liability waivers. 

The pandemic could put some colleges and universities past their financial breaking point. Schools may see a 15% decline in enrollment next fall and a whopping $45 billion plunge in revenue from room and board and tuition, according to the American Council on Education as reported by the Wall Street Journal. 


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