Nov 23, 2020
We hope you have been enjoying our blog series on gap years over the past few weeks. After covering the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of the subject, we will share in the enriching experiences of our alumni who pursued gap years after high school.
Studies have shown that almost 52% of students end up not completing their year successfully if they choose to start college immediately after school. In most cases, 78% of students pursue a career irrelevant to the college degree. Ultimately this leads to a creative burnout within years of working in a typical ‘9-to-5’ job. These trends underline the great need for students to consciously take time off to re-evaluate their life choices and goals.
We invited Divya, Namya and Prahladh on the bonus episode of Out of the Box with Beyond 8 Season 2, to weigh in on how their lives changed as a result of their decision to pause, reflect and pursue their next big step. Did they wind up where they started or were they pleasantly surprised by the new doors that opened up to them? Here is what they had to say:
Meet Divya Sarangan, a dreamer and a young woman of many talents. She is trained in classical Hindustani and Carnatic music, as well as Kathak. She combines her passion for teaching and music with Snehadhara , an NGO that strives to cater to the needs of children with special needs. Divya is currently pursuing an online course from Coursera titled [International Women’s Health and Human Rights](International Women’s Health and Human Rights "International Women’s Health and Human Rights"). Her latest venture, ‘ Kutti Kutti Aasai ’, consists of homemade art and crafts that definitely carries her aura and personality in every product that she makes.
When asked why she chose to take a gap year after high school, Divya confessed that she is not too fond of that term itself. She did not look at that time in her life as a ‘gap’ at all. Rather it was a year that she took to discover her interests outside of the portals of school. It was in the final years of high school that she realized that conventional education and examinations were not her cup of tea and that she had to explore other options that were more suited to her style of learning.
During the gap year, Divya sought greater clarity on turning her passions into a profession. She interned at different places and eventually found that working with children was something that she really enjoyed. She took the time to meet friends, learn, and travel, thereby adding new experiences to life. Today, Divya has found her true calling and pursues it with passion. Before signing off, she highly recommends that every learner takes a chance on giving themselves a gap year.
Namya joins us from her picturesque dorm room in Sweden, where she is currently pursuing her Masters in Bio-entrepreneurship. She dreams of making a positive impact in the healthcare industry and is a proponent of women empowerment and social inclusion. In her free time, she loves baking and dancing to her heart’s content!
Namya initially wanted to take a gap year after her schooling but eventually did so after completing her undergraduate studies. To this day, she considers it the ‘best decision’ she has made in her life. In Namya’s experience, the gap year helped her concentrate and prepare to get into the university of her choice in Sweden for M.A, which she has managed to successfully achieve. Along with working with her alma mater, Beyond 8 as a marketing trainee, Namya even managed to pick up new skills and hobbies such as surfing and travelling!
Namya was honest that in the initial days of her gap year, she binged on Netflix and read a couple of books. But when she surrounded herself with self-learners and explorers, she was inspired to pick herself up and create a more interesting and productive routine. She states that being financially independent helped her stay on track and organized. The entire process taught her to be patient and self-confident.
Prahladh is a rising tech entrepreneur whose brainchild ‘ Be Cool Masks ’ was born out of a keen interest in the fields of physics and engineering. This talented 3D designer decided to take a gap year even before starting 12th grade to explore and learn new skills. His experience is definitely a unique one as he is spending his gap year at home due to the pandemic.
Prahladh discovered very early on that the masks being used in recent times are neither comfortable nor safe. In his quest to solve this problem, he started ‘Be Cool Masks’ - a unique mask that has a fan ventilation system powered by USB charging and battery.
Creating an end product that was ready for the market was a labour of love for Prahladh. Right from getting the 3D design down pat and building a prototype on a 3D printer to making the final product, there was no dearth of lessons he learnt. The entire creative process equipped him with new skills in 3D design and entrepreneurship, many of which he would never have achieved with traditional schooling.
A surprising statement that Prahladh made was that he never once felt discouraged by comments his peers made about him during his time off. His secret? “I simply locked out all the noise and focused solely on my journey.”, he reveals. He firmly believes that no individual should allow the education system to define him/her.
The common thread that runs through all three unique gap year experiences is the support they received from their Indian families despite it being perceived as a ‘western ideology’. It is this support, they all say, that helped them to stay motivated throughout the year.
The journey of all three stars is quite different and remarkable. The way they have navigated through the gap year is also tuned according to their own pace of learning. The knowledge and experience gained through it is valuable and essential in shaping their careers ahead.
Maybe a gap year is not meant for everyone, but when it is carefully planned it could help them make more informed decisions on pursuing a fruitful career. During college, their gap year experiences will enrich their courses, strengthen co-curricular endeavours, and animate undergraduate research and projects. Young minds bubble with creativity hence with the right guidance and encouragement from their family, they will be able to explore their various fields of interests
If you missed this episode on Out of the Box with Beyond 8, watch the entire recording here . Read more about the Beyond 8 Bridge Program here.
Be it the way we learn or teach, there are always better ways to do it and often they lie out of the box, on the paths less taken. Out of the Box with Beyond 8 is an initiative that encourages the education fraternity to push the boundaries and challenge the status quo.
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