Different strokes for different folks. Some students believe that working for an NGO or a social service organization taking a break of an year will help them give something back to the society and also help them to earn a better view of the realities of the society and country which they belong. Noble thinking indeed and true in the way that it does instill amongst the youth a feet on the ground attitude and greater empathy for fellow humans especially after being exposed to the predicament of the lesser privileged.
Some have been known to assist in drug rehabilitation centers while others have taught socio-economically disadvantaged children. These can be very fulfilling and empowering experiences that can build character and a realistic view of the world. However, it is being increasingly seen that moves are emulated by many and generate kind of herd instinct that makes many youngsters follow their peers without the same thought out resolution or motive which can lead to sheer waste of time and probable disillusionment in some cases
A few young students who have harbored aspirations of a serious nature in the area of special skills like professional sport or music or theatre, decide to make a do or die effort, to see if the talents that won them plaudits and hurrahs in schools can be translated to success in the no holds barred professional arena. A gap year, they believe can give them the window of opportunity to test their skills against the best. It is the chance taken to see if they can make it in their chosen vocations they are passionate about. If not, college and the oft trodden path beckon. These efforts and the opportunity to try skills have often led to blooming of extraordinary talent in areas as diverse as sport, film making, photography, multimedia and gaming, 3D animation, arts, music and fashion design.
The education system is often so oppressive that it deprives students from thinking clearly about their future. It deprives them of contemplation about their needs and rationalizing future goals while rushing them through set pieces of activity modules geared towards completion of their school syllabus year. Swept away in the quagmire of schedules, tutorials and examinations most students remain confused about their true desires and goals till the end.
There is a downside to this when some unfortunate students are forced to take a gap year. A common occurrence has been several engineering graduates being offered appointment letters by software majors that lead to temporary rejoicing. However, it is when they are forced to sit at home and twiddle their thumbs waiting for the call letter to join jobs, that all of it begins to seem like a receding dream. This is unwittingly forced upon them and can be a detrimental to self esteem and confidence in one’s abilities. Students who opt for such job offers should examine the past track record of these companies without being struck by the glamour that the corporate image carries.
A deliberate choice of taking a break of an year should have the encouragement of parents and guardians. Unhappiness is born from the later day realization or being stuck in a professional cut that is a shackle that can at best be loosened. A year in a life time is small price to pay for future happiness and success that is more probable if a youngster takes the time make informed choices after determined their own ambitious and dreams. The determination to ascertain whether one should walk down a traditional road or take the path less traveled must germinate from a desire to excel and to make a difference. Einstein has said, all our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them. We can, if we think we can. Free spirits and happy individuals make better people better workers, better sons and daughters, better wives and husbands, better parents and better citizens. A year for such freedom, the choice is obvious.
A gap year is not a void. It should be perceived as a bridge between now and the future. A bridge or pathway constructed with well conceived plans of action. And certainty realistic dreams leading to fruition. The rainbow of life has a color for everybody to choose from. Take a pause for better decisions, and make your choice.