The Value of a Gap Year

By Desiree Yang 

If you’ve been through Singapore’s education system, chances are, you’ve been through a dozen or so years of formal education before you enter university. For some, the thought of diving head-first into a three or four-year degree can be mighty daunting after studying for so long. Instead, all you might really want is a well-deserved break from the academic treadmill and a chance to let your tortured brain recuperate. This is where a gap year comes in handy. While the concept of a gap year might be relatively foreign to us Singaporeans, this longstanding tradition in Britain which has recently gained popularity in the US, is probably the remedy that many students are looking for.

So, just what is a gap year? For Singaporeans, it would probably refer to the time that you might take off between the completion of your Junior College or Polytechnic education and the start of university. Your peers might also choose to take a gap year between completing their university education and the start of their careers. In addition to a well-deserved rest, how might a gap year benefit you? Well, many ‘gappers’ (slang for students who take a gap year) have reported the following benefits when asked about how their gap year has helped them.

Clarity on Future Career Interests and Goals

If not structured properly, a gap year can easily be wasted – plopped on the couch with a bowl of potato chips watching reruns of ‘Friends’. A gap year presents a myriad of opportunities to pursue your hobbies and interests, volunteer, travel or find a job in a field that is related to the degree that you wish to pursue. All this can play a key role in teaching you, the ‘gapper’, eye-opening life lessons that can provide insight into the career that you wish to have and in turn, what to study in university. This can also help you avoid common struggles that some university students have where they pick a major for the sake of it or worse, realise that they’re taking the wrong major.

A Sense of Maturity and Personal Development

Regardless of whether you spend your gap year travelling, volunteering, pursuing hobbies and interests or working, you’ll be exposed to a world outside the classroom that will push you to be self-sufficient, self-aware and more confident of yourself. Taken together, these traits will be immensely valuable in university, where you’ll be facing a whole new unfamiliar school environment and mere rote learning will no longer suffice.

A Renewed Passion for Learning

Many ‘gappers’ return from their gap year feeling rejuvenated and refreshed with all the experiences that they’ve undergone – taking a gap year can also charge you up and get you ready to take on all that university life has to offer. This will allow you to fully appreciate the value in learning and not just get caught up in the study rat race. As the saying goes, “one man’s meat is another man’s poison”, and while taking a gap year might work for some, it might not work out for you. To fully utilise a gap year, you need to be open to challenges, give your year structure and ultimately, make it worthwhile.

What are your thoughts on taking a gap year? Would you consider taking one? Share with us in the comment box below!

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