Students, parents embracing gap-year concept

A gap year, a term typically used to describe a year-long break that students take between various levels of college education, was once considered a luxury that only the wealthy could afford. This may no longer be the case: schools in Bengaluru have observed that it is now increasingly common among students who have completed class twelve.

There was a time when students would take a gap after after getting their bachelor’s degree. “Now we find that 12th standard students are taking a year off before applying to colleges,” said a teacher.

Experts attribute this trend to the fact that students want more time to prepare for competitive examinations, such as the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). That said, some students use the gap year to explore different fields of study before committing to one stream in an undergraduate programme.

And schools are stepping in to help their students. Inventure Academy is hosting a ‘gap year program’ where children will have the opportunity to work with mentors and take up projects in association with startups. For instance, the school has tied up with a startup that allows gap year students to work on projects in the fields of education and waste management.

Nooraine Fazal, Chief Executive Officer at Inventure Academy, said, “At the moment, school systems are all structured towards taking board exams. However, this attitude is not suitable through one's life. There needs to be a change in the yardstick of success from being measured through a big bank balance to one's positive social impact. A gap year will allow them the opportunity for hands-on learning. They provide children with an opportunity to decide what, and more importantly, why they will pursue a particular subject.”

This was what Malavika Nagarajan did after completing her twelfth standard. "I was allowed to make a choice without the pressure of time or of having to study for my board exams simultaneously. I had the opportunity to do a social media internship and explore my interests before making a decision,” said Malavika who chose to pursue fine arts. During her ‘time off’, she had set up a stall in the annual Chitra Santhe art fest. “This experience helped me find my passion,” she added.

Seen as an opportunity

Ashish Martin, a former student of National Academy for Learning, said NEET coaching institutes have courses especially for students who take a year off to prepare for the medical entrance exam. The stigma associated with missing a year is fading, as parents, too, are seeing this as an opportunity for their children to gain an upper hand.

“I was wondering how I would manage my studies and prepare for my entrance exam. My parents suggested the idea of a gap year,” said Adit Venky, who recently completed 12th standard at Mallya Aditi International School.

Some experts are not in favour of a gap year being used to prepare for yet another examination.

“Children may feel compelled to take a gap year for preparation for a specific course, especially if it is competitive in nature. Rather than taking time off to prepare for such exams, the system should be changed to admit those interested, not those who excel in the test. If a child studies the subjects of interest in 12th standard, this should be enough. If a child is into medicine, but can't qualify for the test, it’s disappointing,” said Niranjanaradhya V.P. from the Centre for Child and the Law, National Law School of India University (NLSIU).

He added that children should be enabled to pursue their interests, but not at the cost of a year. An institutional structure should be put in place where students can approach people for any necessary resources before making a choice.

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Printable version | Jul 30, 2021 5:26:09 PM |

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