Tuesday 11 May 2021
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The Purpose of a gap year

For many high school students, leaving high school is the moment they’ve all been waiting for. This is also the time when critical decision making and “adulating” comes in to play – perhaps this may call for a gap year.

According to matriculants

Quit literally, gap means space and a year is 12 months.*Tara, a 2018 matriculate has chosen for 2019 to be her gap year.

She explained it to be a year between high school and university where she is free of from constraints and pressures of academic life… “ and where I have the freedom to grow as a person and my skills; I now have more time to focus,” she continued.

*Monique who also took a year off academia, explained that she used the gap year as her year of self-discovery. “Basically for me its just an opportunity to find myself, get to know myself. My likes and dislikes but most importantly what my goals are both long and short. My aspirations and where I see myself career wise,” she emphasized.

Why take a gap year? explains why it is advisable to take a gap year just as Barack Obama’s daughter Malia did before she went off to Harvard.

1.    You’ll perform better academically

Taking a gap year can improve your school results when you return to your academic career. The assumption is that taking time off academics for months will put you behind in school and make you lazy or maybe even less enthusiastic for school, but one couldn’t be more wrong – students who have taken a gap year actually improved their grades. Taking a break, finding your career path and starting school focused and full of motivation can work to your benefit.

2.    Explore and find your niche

It isn’t very easy picking a career and “growing up”– one’s 20s are a time where many things change while navigating a world that is constantly transforming at an astonishing speed. It is a time where you’ll have to make big decisions that will impact a big part of your life.
Taking the time to find out what will make you happy for the next five years can make all the difference. A gap year can help you try different things and will help you learn or confirm what you want or do not want to do – as long as you don’t just aimlessly take time off but make sure you know what you want to get out of your time off.

3.    Become employable and skilled

Many may think that taking a gap year will look bad on their curriculum vitae but if the break is being used productively as it should be, then certainly not.

During your gap year, you can volunteer at a local community by becoming involved in events and matters taking place in your community. Community involvement shows your future employer or university that you apply to that you are concerned with the matters of local people. Volunteering shows that you have a selfless character.

Tara and Monique shared with The Lounge that “I feel like jumping into a course right now will just send me on a downward spiral,” Monique reasoned. During her gap year, Monique has done a few odd jobs as the opportunities presented themselves  while discovering what she truly wants to pursue a career in. Tara on the other hand plans to volunteer at a seabird sanctuary in Cape Town, tutor, work on her art as well as ballet and travel as much as possible.

When asked if she would ever regret taking a gap year because of the time off, she said it was the best decision of her life and she will never regret it. The support from her parents, friends and family made the decision and experience all round a much more pleasant one.

Tara however struggled to convince both her parents that she wanted to take a gap year after high school describing her mother as more apprehensive while her father was more accepting of the idea.

A gap year, used productively can give you the time and experience to make tough decisions especially like deciding what you truly want to study or what career path to follow.

*not her real name

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