1 Mixed reactions: There are mixed thoughts on whether a student should drop a year after school. “A gap year is desirable because it allows students to explore their interests and gain insights from their experiences,” says educationist Abha Adams. However, “many hesitate to take this opportunity because colleges in India do not take a favourable view of gap years,” she says. Colleges demand to know what you did in the period — reasons like preparing for entrance tests are generally accepted. But “this whole thing of ‘finding yourself’ is something Indian institutions don’t really take well to,” says career counsellor Usha Albuquerque. A gap year after graduation is still acceptable, she says.
2 What’s the post-gap plan? What’s driving you to skip a year. Do you just need a break after the stressful final year of school? Do you wish to experience the real world? Do you wish for a brief industry immersion to decide on your career path?
Whatever it is, think it through. Cut-off marks for entry to colleges may shoot beyond your reach. A gap year is also risky for those intending to later write competitive tests. After a year off studies, you could lose focus to prepare for the entrance, Albuquerque says, adding that it’s “probably OK” for humanities students who could be confused about what to do. “If they do take a gap year, there must be a purpose behind it.” They may look for an internship with, say, an ad agency to get a first-hand feel of work life.
3 What’s the plan for the gap? Time is invaluable, and this one year more so. Usually, a gap year is about travel, internships/jobs and voluntary work.
Students must select and plan well to the make the most of it. “It is best if students could do a mix of travel, definitely some voluntary work and internships,” says Adams. “There is always a danger that it could be a waste if the organisations they have identified do not use the strengths of the students.” So, be clear about the desired outcome of your activities/ engagements.