In India, opting for a gap year doesn’t sound as romantic or exciting as it does in the West. Here when a student takes a gap year, it is automatically assumed they are preparing for strenuous competitive entrance exams for prestigious institutions like the IITs or IIMs. But we are not here to talk about that kind of gap year.

In one of our weekly webinars – held on May 3, 2020 – our founder, Dr Rakesh Godhwani spoke to Aniruddh Bhaskaran, an Economics undergraduate and Soumya Aggarwal, CEO of IGen Plus about the relevance of gap years and how it can benefit youngsters. Aniruddh was Dr Godhwani’s former student and has also participated in a SoME program. Incidentally, he
took a gap year because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to pursue in college. Soumya’s company, on the other hand, has a three-month-long gap year program called Rooted and Free, comprising three domains; first being spirituality, focused on making participants more grounded and culturally aware. The second is creativity, aimed at enhancing creative and analytical skills, public speaking and developing an entrepreneurial mindset. The third one is exponentiality, which facilitates the learning of new technology and its uses. Conventional Indian educational system doesn’t encourage students to partake in extracurricular activities that International colleges look for in an application, like community service, internships and volunteer opportunities.

A gap year, Aniruddh says, provides a student with time to indulge in these activities, improving their college applications and subsequent resumes. While encouraging students to opt for a gap year, Aniruddh mentioned Pioneer Academics, a program offering undergraduate level resources for projects and research to high school students. “This program is helpful because it prepares you for college- level experiences like writing well-substantiated research papers and interacting thoughtfully with professors, and gives you a glimpse of what to expect in higher education. Internships can also be pursued during a gap year, and it can help students adjust to an adult workspace, learn time management and explore various career paths.” Concurring with Aniruddh, Soumya adds, our education system’s emphasis on the clerical aspects over practical leads to many students having underdeveloped communication, research and networking skills. A gap year can remedy these flaws.

However, Aniruddh says it is imperative to show that a gap year yielded tangible results. “When I was applying to colleges, I had to show how the gap year I took changed my perspective on various things. If you’re taking a year off, focus on doing something you can display on your applications. My internships with SoMe and designing a website are outputs
that I can put up on my resume and show potential employers that someone with a gap year is better than those without it,”
“Taking a gap year versus not taking one, by no means, guarantees a college or job placement. But, it can be rewarding to your mental health, prevent burnouts and improve self- assessment. Asking if a gap year ensures success or failure is a loaded question that depends on circumstances. Taking a year off and utilising the break productively will benefit careers,
mental health and research,” says Aniruddh.

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