With all the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, being patient and taking a pause to build your profile and possibly buffer your economic situation might not be a bad plan at all
As the world enters a new year, unlike any other new year it has seen before, we face a wall of uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic and its consequent lockdown have upended the world as we knew it.
While the economy was in limbo, so was the student. Exams were rescheduled, and internships cancelled, some students even had to face economic shortages as families coped with layoffs amid a tightening of the belt mood. It is inevitable to ask then, should I take a gap year?
A gap year is typically a break lasting an academic year between school and university or college education. Traditionally, a gap year used to be looked down upon, at least in a conventional society like India. It was something akin to failure. But with the global situation drastically affected by the coronavirus pandemic, it’s time to revise the dread and guilt that we have come to associate with the tag. There could be any number of reasons why you might be considering taking a gap year.
- You are not sure of what you want to do
It’s understandable to be unsure of your calling. If you are choosing to take a gap year for this reason, make sure you use it wisely. The next time you fill out your application, this period should shine as the time when you found yourself. Backpack if you want to. Live in a village, or the hills, and document your journey if you have a journalistic streak. Hands-on experience with an NGO is the best way to gain exposure. Not only will it help you decide for or against a line of study, It will also help you build your profile. Use this opportunity to upskill yourself. Participate in community service from an area of your specialisation so that it builds your personality, and you gain meaningful participation.
- Economic issues
You have received admission letters, or are planning to apply this year, but are unsure of your economic situation. The pandemic and its consequent lockdown have caused great damage to the economy. There are many who might not be able to afford overseas education in a snap. Moreover, the scholarships and grants too will soon dry up, if they haven’t already. This could affect your immediate decision. Taking a gap year for this reason would make sense. Try to widen your horizons by joining an internship, or by building funds.
A student was falling short for his tuition fees at an Ivy League school. He took a year off and worked to buffer the coffers. He also invested in blockchain technology wisely, and thus managed to partially fund his way through overseas education.
- Missed the list
It happens to the best of us. Sometimes it’s bad luck, at others, it’s a blessing in disguise. The coming year will see many changes in the way colleges make their admission decisions. Some interesting details:
- The SATs and ACTs have been cancelled or postponed many times.
- Many colleges have gone test-optional, the UC's have gone completely test-blind.
- SAT subjects have been dropped as requirements at some of the colleges.
- The essay has not only been made optional, but it has even been completely removed from consideration from some colleges.
There has been a wave of college admission moving away from standardised tests and scores. This means that more and more attention is being paid to an applicant’s profile. While this could be a blessing to those who are versatile at building an impressive profile, this also means more importance for GPA and continuous assessment. More relative weightage will be given to extracurricular activities and their validation.
Keeping all this in mind, the coming year should be crucial for preparation for your further education.
All work and no play making you dull? Burnout is real. Take pause, stop to breathe and smell the roses. A gap year is essential in this case so that you can recalibrate your senses and priorities. Overseas education is a big investment, both financially and emotionally. There is a great amount of pressure to perform well, and to extract full value from it, like an ROI. Beginning your adventure from a complete burnout frame of mind is like starting a journey on an empty tank. Take a year, re-fuel yourself. The new world will wait for you.
Gap years have always been an option but they haven’t always been very popular. This year, however, might be an exception. With all the uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, being patient and taking a pause to build your profile and possibly buffer your economic situation might not be a bad plan at all. Ensure that you have a really specific reason, and work on it fruitfully throughout the year. A gap year is not for the faint-hearted. It is 12 months of waiting and working, with your eye on the prize, keeping in mind that this time is a resource that you can build on. Do not waste it.