Want to take a gap year? Here are the pros and cons

As universities gear up for admissions, there are some youngsters who want to take a break to think about what they really want or to travel. The ‘gap year’ or ‘drop year’ concept is considered legit by kids but their parents are sceptical

“Gap years are a waste of time”, declares 18-year-old Ritu who is preparing for college this year. She has just passed her Class 12 exam and thinks a lot can be packed into a year – outside of campuses. “Unless you have a proper plan, you are not going to do anything”, she adds.

On similar lines, Alan, of the same age, says that the thought of taking a gap year never crossed his mind. Alan is preparing for college this year and spends most of his time studying. Asked what he thinks about taking a break, he says, “Given a choice, I might take a drop year to explore my options but this does feel like a possibility.”

‘A waste of time!’

Parents usually think that a gap year is a waste of time. “Why do you want to take a break without an agenda? That does not make sense. Taking a gap year is always unproductive if you don’t study”, says a parent of a NEET aspirant who has been preparing for a year now.

“I won’t allow a gap year for my kid. I think it is a waste of time”, another parent tells Patriot. While parents generally find the concept new and unusual, some students agree with them as well. 

Echoing her parents’ sentiments, Ritu says, “Taking a year to explore isn’t feasible. Even my parents would not allow it. I am the oldest in my family, and I have responsibilities to take care of. So it is not an option for me anyway.’’

However relaxing it may sound, a gap year always comes with some financial privilege. Most families plan their lives with a timeframe in mind about when their children will finish their education and embark on their careers. “I cannot afford to take a break. My family needs my support and this can only be done if I earn sooner’’, says another Delhi University student.

Mixed results

Gap years have led to different outcomes for those who have taken it. While it served as a means to self-discovery for some people, it was also a year full of anxiety and depression for others. ‘‘As your friends move on with life, you feel like you are not doing enough. One also feels lost at times. You just have to keep reminding yourself about what your aspirations are. This is only what keeps you going on”, says Musharraf, a student.

‘‘To me, the year was very productive. I could focus on my physical and mental health. It also brought clarity about my future. I started to love myself with time’’, remarks Poonam, who is currently studying English and Economics in Delhi. She missed the admission deadline and had to wait for a year to continue her studies. “Although it did help me, there was constant guilt. I still have the guilt of missing a year’’, she says.

For Shariqua Fatima, a Fashion Designing student at Amity University, her gap year was life-changing. ‘‘That one year has changed me emotionally and physically. I started learning things on my own. I did many internships and used it to explore the industry before actually going into it”, she remarks. 

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SA Sneha
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