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Taking a Gap Year:A Dire or Desirable Decision?

Most students go directly to college or university after secondary or high school. I mean, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do? No, not necessarily...

It is a growing trend where students are choosing to take a “gap year,” i.e. a year between their studies. There are different reasons for doing this. Some students are uncertain about their future plans, others want to take a break from school so they can go into high gear when they begin college, a number want to use that year to work and save up money, do an internship, volunteer or want other kinds of experiences before heading off to college.

Some students who have taken a gap year say that they learned more in that year than in college. Sometimes, education from experience is the best thing. These experiences can also add to college or job applications. A gap year is not for everyone; but it can be great for others.

Aswasan Joshi, who is presently in his gap year, took it because he wasn’t sure what subject and college he wanted to attend. His mother disapproved it as “squandering” his time when he could be in college already. “This respite will really help me decide what I want from my life and, in fact, explore and be better prepared before embarking upon an important chapter of my life,” says Aswasan. So far, during his gap year, he has interned at Rato Bangala Foundation, where he worked on a project making audio books (where audio files could be played on cell phones) and flash cards to help children in the Dailekh area learn English. He is currently interning at ECS Media.

On December 21st, three days before his birthday, he received his college acceptance letter from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. “Hands down, the best birthday present ever,” says Aswasan. Even better, he got a full ride scholarship, meaning the four years that he attends college will be free. He will be heading to college for the fall in around five months.

Aswasan has many friends that have and are doing gap years and says, “Trust me, there are people who are really making the year off count, doing all sorts of things imaginable, getting involved in this and that.” Though he wishes that in his gap year he could have learned something more “substantial.” However, it still sounds like he has made fairly good use of his gap year so far, and still has a few months left.

Ashesh, a 2008 graduate, took a gap year so that he would not have to stress about the board exams and college applications at the same time. This allowed him to take time to work on his applications, visit his school, get recommendations, and participate in activities to build on his applications for college.

During his gap year, he volunteered at Bal Bhojan, teaching music to street children and seeing a different side of Nepal. He also interned at the Nepal Investment Bank and worked at Hits FM radio. Working at the radio really taught him how to improve his public speaking and enunciation skills; boosting his confidence. Seeing how talkative and extroverted he is during the interview, this definitely seems to have worked.

If Ashesh were able to change something, he would have done more in his gap year. Overall, it was a good experience; he felt prepared to start college and ended up getting into a good school.

Navneet, good friends with Ashesh, also decided to take a gap year since board exams happened in March, and by then, there was little choice; all the college applications were already past due. He also worked with Ashesh at Hits FM, volunteered with him at Bal Bhojan and interned at the Nepal Investment Bank. When Ashesh went to talk about interning at the bank, Navneet tagged along; before he knew it, the CEO was like “Oh, so when are you guys starting?” and they didn’t respond; so he ended up interning there with Ashesh. (Don’t we all wish opportunities fell into our lap like this?) Since Navneet spent most of his life at a boarding school in India, he enjoyed getting to spend time in Nepal. Looking back, Navneet says that he would have liked to travel around Nepal during his gap year, exploring and discovering the different parts of this country.

Ultimately, gap years are what you make of them. Having the choice to choose what you want to do for an entire year can be helpful, exciting, liberating, educational and fun! But don’t forget to do a little research beforehand- to see if a gap year is right for you- not just because you want to avoid those dreaded SATs and college applications!
*Names changed.

Subin Shrestha
(Faculty at ACE)
I am not very positive about students taking a gap year. In my opinion by taking a gap year they are wasting their time and money. Gap year can have a negative impact on the students.

 

Aakriti Lama
(Islington)

I believe in this formula, experience = learning = growth. Even taking a year off just to laze around can get you experience. If a student is taking a year off work, travel or just rest can give you an experience which follows learning and that follows growth.

Nitesh Shrestha
(KCM)

First of all to take a break for certain months is to have a clear cut idea regarding your future plan. Similarly another reason might be to prepare for standardized tests like GRE, GMAT for fulfilling the criteria of colleges as well as to apply for scholarship program. Another important reason to take a year off is to gain work experience.