When the idea of the ‘gap year’ was born it elicited strong opinions from both sides of the coin. Some people felt that it was a waste of time and money, believing it would slow down the much needed momentum to complete a higher education qualification.
Others felt that it was an important part of the personal development journey as it allowed students to explore and discover their true purpose in life, which would later help them excel in their careers.
Did you take a gap year? How would you advise students who find themselves at this crossroad?
My simple thoughts on this.
Once again it all is in how you feel about this and how you market yourself. Gap years/times are often extremely important in allowing anyone who is either between career changes or really need a year of LIFE as opposed to walking straight into more study/work.
There are too many people who are in a hurry to study and land up wasting time by studying something they think they should. And it also all depends on the character, if you are a lazy person (yes I am daring to say this) this might make you even less wanting to study/work... the opposite of course is that motivated people will not leave a HOLE when they take a gap year... the will certainly leave a WHOLE... so if anyone asks, this all depends on how you see this year. Employers are interested in the individuals experience of what they did with that year, be it you having given some thought about what you want to do or a wonderful experience that made you clearer about life.
I believe the answer to your question lies in the purpose of taking a gap year. One should be very clear on why they want to take a gap year and how they plan to achieve that. If you are taking a gap year to discover your true purpose then you need to be busy with what will help you identify it. A person can't take a gap year just to sit and basically do nothing. One needs to be able to say after that year they have invested a whole year to their career and personal lives. Be in a position to fully explain to a prospective employer what you learnt or achieved in that year.I always advise people to come up with a plan of action before deciding on taking a gap year. They have to plan how they are going spend the year, where and with whom. This has a profound effect on what they learn about themselves.
In one of my roles, i worked with law graduates. Recruiting them and developing them in their careers. It was always interesting to observe that those graduates who took a gap year or two before embarking into the workplace, were more mature and aware of themselves and others around them. Their orientation was much easier.
First let me say that Cindy should be careful with her spellings. WHOLE and HOLE are two different words as indicated in Tass' contribution.
My take on this is that the benefit or otherwise of a gap year depends on the individual. How was the year spent? This you will have to answer at an interview or to somebody who wants to employ you. In education, you must have a good reason to create that GAP or HOLE. So my dear Cindy, it all depends on how you use the gap year.
Thank you all for your sharing your thoughts. I'm hoping to use these comments to write an article for students who are genuinely at a loss about what to do next. Your input could provide the direction needed to pursue a dream!
I have come 3 instances where parents have different views regarding taking a gap year.
One parent was not event considering or encouraging a year where her son would be sitting at home playing X-box everyday. She took the initiative to enrol her son at CPUT for a course she felt would best suit his character. So far so good he is enjoying the course.
Then i have another parent who's son was not sure what career he wanted to pursue and was really struggling deciding one specific course to study.
His parents then assisted him in finding a suitable job (casual basis) for him at an electrical company for a year so that he can earn money to support his social life, start saving and get experience in the working environment and also so that he can find the correct passion he would like to persue his career in.They felt they were not prepared to waste money on a university or college on a career choice ending up being a miss and leaving him feeling unhappy, guilty and even more indecisive.
I feel parents should be very careful on there choices they make for there kids. At the end of the day it is there choice, there life and there career path. We can only but guide them and explain th epro's and con's for every decision and choice made.
My encounter was a student who studied for 4 years at UCT and just got board and lost complete interest and changed subjects and luckily could carry over some credits. The parents were livid and alot of money was lost. Now the child is travelling abroad and loving every moment of just finding himself. He will continue his studies when he get back after 6 months.
What is every student/person really missing if anything, in that gap year being everything from an internship, learnership, bursary, job opportunity. The stakes are high. Options should always be weighed.
Most importantly goals should be set!
I say travel the world. Work abroad. Come back home and study.
A gap year can add to your CV ... depending on what you do during the 'gap year'.
Taking a GAP year can be two ways. It depends on what you do in the GAP year, do you take the time off to find yourself, and what you want to do for the rest of your life or do you take the time to explore the world, travel and party?
I think it is vital that youth already know what they want to do by the time that they leave school, and therefore after school programs (while still in school) would benefit allot of youth to make the right decisions.
Taking a year off could also put youth at a disadvantage due to availability of jobs.