Opinion / Blog

Gap years – Icing on the cake called life

By Tania_Sole ( Updated: 2015-06-17 17:03

Gap means “an empty space or interval; interruption in continuity; a hiatus”. In effect anyone can take a gap period or year at any point in time. We usually associate with gap years and certainly there are a lot of organized gap year programs for a year between high school and college and for the year after college before either graduate school or work.

The reason to take a gap year is often to create an interval that allows one to more properly prepare and take advantage of the next stage either because one thinks they won’t have more opportunities for a gap year or because one is unsure of what to do next.  

Imagine yourself having just finished high school and not sure of what you want to study. Why not try out different things and see which one really appeals.  Imagine the converse, you are fresh out of college, you know you are going to medical school and are faced with a couple of years of general medical study, possibly a year of specialization, a residency program and then work.   

A year before medical school can give you the internal strength to recharge and commit to your desired line of work.  On the other hand the gap year can serve to make one realize they don’t want to go to medical school and that there are some very good alternative options to be explored.

In some countries, such as Israel, they are common after residents complete their required military service.  In other countries such as Australia they can be used to declare financial independence and allow for more financial aid for later study. Nonetheless the reality is that gap years are predominantly an option for middle class and wealthy families.  If you don’t have the luxury of time and choices you can’t take a gap year.  However not all need to be expensive camp-like programs.

Working in a different field from one’s intended plan can effectively be a gap year.  Working in a different county in a different capacity to what one intends to be later can also be a part of a gap year.  In fact a gap year doesn’t even have to last a year or include only one type of program.  You can experiment with different options and do two or three different things for a couple of months each.

The final reality is that gap year programs don’t have to be only for the young in transition they also exist in the working world.  In academia they call them sabbaticals.   In politics they call them getting real world experience.  In sports they call them taking time off for healing.  These are all gap periods in one’s long-term career and can all be icing on the cake called life.  How much icing your cake needs is wholly up to you.

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