You are in the final stages of your college days and every day you move closer to the rest of your life. Every time you are left to your own devices you wonder how things are going to pan out. You have the option of doing your masters or to work, travel or volunteer or all of it. But you are not sure of where you stand – whether the career path that you would like to follow is really for you. The decision that you make right now is the decision that will decide the rest of forever. It is not a pressure to be taken lightly.
While I’d like to tell you otherwise, I did not take a gap year out of my own choice but it was the best thing to happen to me. Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend who just finished her graduation and was lost on what to do. She had gotten into some of the best colleges in the country but did not know if the subject that she did for her UG is still what she wanted to know. She is talented and passionate but was confused whether it will give her the kind of life that she wanted. It was a hard confusion that a lot of us have faced; at least I know I did. It is a classic case of passion vs. need.
There will be times in our lives when we will be at crossroads and we wish that we could put it off. The time after UG is the first of many such situations, but is also the rare case where you can take a break and figure out what works for you. There is no time like our early twenties when we can and should let ourselves be open to all kinds of experiences. How taking a gap year can truly help someone is by taking them out of the so called education system that has been dictating our life for the last 14-17 years and show you a different world.
If you choose to work during your gap year, it will teach you more things than the formal education system might have taught you. It will teach you the necessity of skills and characteristics that teachers and families have been trying to knock into your head all your life. You will learn that punctuality is something that can make or break you and not taking care of your transportation is like making a conscious decision of choosing not to learn how to walk (I’ve not learned to drive yet, but is working on it with the knowledge of how important it is). Most of all, you will meet people of all ages and from all walks of life and you’ll learn that life is not all black and white, but there are shades of grey to every person and every aspect of human life.
The time I took off helped affirm my love for the career path that I wanted to take. But most of all, it helped me see education in a different light. Till the final year of my UG, doing my masters was the next logical step and that was it. But the influence of the people I met during my time working taught me that the act of gaining knowledge is not for a job, nor is it something that can only be gained through formal education. There are no limits to what you can learn during your life, in fact you will be all the happier for it if you find a way to keep learning for as long as you can and about as many things as you can. A gap year might be a break from the formal education system, but it will probably end up being the most educational time of your life, ever.