Are you wondering what to do after 12th? Good…you are not alone. 1,000,000 students are wondering the same alongside you. That number looks ridiculous, doesn’t it? But that is the number of students who appear for the 12th-grade exam in India every year!
And sure, most of them (including you) have some sort of plan – obviously involving appearing for entrance exams and going off to college. But…here’s the deal. I need you to bear with me for a few minutes because I’ll be tackling something challenging and controversial today – Taking a gap year after 12th before you enter the illustrious world that is college.
At this point, you might be having one of two reactions:
- Minimize the tab so that your parents can’t see your screen, or
- Thinking….what? I can’t do that! I have entrance exams…. A gap year will be such a waste of my time.
The idea of taking a voluntary gap year between the transition period from school to college life is not something that we Indians are very familiar with. And from gap year I do not mean taking a year off to prepare for some entrance exam that you couldn’t qualify in the first attempt.
What I mean by gap year is taking a brief pause – before you go rushing into the ‘cradle to college to cubicle to cemetery cycle’. It’s about taking some time to re-evaluate your life and decide what to do after 12th. It is about getting new experiences, learning some off-beat skills, adding some extracurricular activities to your profile, or just taking a break for a second!
The idea sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Yet…there are these creeping doubts. What if I lose valuable time…time that I can never get back? What if I forget my lessons and can’t get into college later? What will I gain out of this time anyway? What will my parents say?
But put those thoughts aside for a few minutes. It will all make sense by end of this blog.
What to Do After 12th? A Gap Year Isn’t That Ridiculous an Idea
It is a Time to Learn New Things, Gain New Experiences
First of all, get rid of that thought that a gap year before college is a waste of time. It is not! While you may not be part of the college-going herd…you can still use that time to learn something useful. Gain experiences that you might not get the chance to again.
Still wondering what to do after 12th – the whole wide world is open for your exploration!
In his commencement address at Stanford University, Steve Jobs told a story that he took calligraphy class on a whim. At the time, it wasn’t something that he thought will add value to his career or life plan. He just wanted to learn it. And years later, that very calligraphy lesson inspired him to add multiple font types in Macintosh.
As you can see, you can never know, a skill you learn during a gap year may end up inspiring you to create something new, original, and beautiful.
You Learn to Live in an Adult’s World During a Gap Year
Taking a gap year is not a whimsical choice – there is a logic behind it. Think about it – your entire school life you have been a child or an adolescent. Till this stage of your life, you do not get a sense of independence (though you crave it with every fibre of your being your entire teenage).
You live with your parents who support you in every sense of the way. You have teachers who tell you what to do, guide you. And your friends are your classmates whom you have known your entire lives, some may be your neighbours, others maybe your batch mates since pre-school. You are surrounded by people you know, who know you, your quirks, speak the same language as you do.
Now compare it with the world you’ll face when you enter college life. You’ll be on your own for the first time in your life. You’ll meet people whom you do not know, who don’t know you. They will be from across the country, perhaps from a different nation, speaking different languages, eating different food, holding different opinions. And you’ll have to carve a niche for yourself.
It can be overwhelming. And taking a gap year before you enter this phase will help you adjust to college life better. You’ll be more open, more accepting of people different from you.
What Can you Do After 12th: Make the Most of Your Gap Year
If there is one sure way of understanding the world with both your eyes wide open and learning how to be independent – it is travelling. It is one of the best ways you can spend your gap year that will not only give you an experience but make it memorable. You’ll get to visit places, meet people, see the diversity in culture, languages, food, lifestyles that exist, and appreciate it even more.
So make plans, set an itinerary, pack your bags, and go on to the next great adventure!
Volunteering for an NGO or Community Service
Did you know that the actor Benedict Cumberbatch took a gap year after school to teach English at a Buddhist monastery in Darjeeling? Yes, our very own Sherlock himself!
What do you think he gained from this experience? Volunteering to teach English at a Buddhist monastery thousands of miles from home isn’t exactly a prerequisite for getting into drama school. Yet it did help him become a better actor, and a better human being (and not a high functioning sociopath!). By his admission, the experience taught him more than any English he could ever teach those kids.
“They taught me about the simplicity of human nature, but also the humanity of it, and the ridiculous sense of humour you need to live a full spiritual life.” – Benedict Cumberbatch
So take lessons, kids! Find a cause that you value and volunteer to help it move forward. You’ll learn more of the world from it than any brick n mortar classroom will ever teach you.
Internships and Part-time Jobs
If you want to take this gap year seriously and do something that will most definitely help you in your career in future – you can take up internships.
Most often than not, students’ career choices after 12th depend on what their parents tell them to do, or what they see their peers or seniors doing. While career counselling and guidance is increasingly becoming a priority, there is still a lack of something crucial that stops students from making an informed career decision – real-life experience.
Let’s take an example to understand the gravity of the situation. Imagine a student who really wants to be a doctor. (And not just because his/her parents want it.) Turns out they are good at biology, physics, and chemistry, and crack all entrance exams and get into a medical college. So far, so good? Then the first day of class, wearing their white coats, students are surrounding a hospital bed, and at the sight of a dissected corpse, or well-qualified student faints.
Lesson from this gruesome example – Qualification will not take you very far if you lack real-life experience.
Taking a gap year after 12th will allow you the time to take up internships and part-time jobs in the industry you’re interested in to assess if it’s the right fit for you. It will also give you a chance to earn your keep and have a semblance of financial independence – that’s the most important part of adulting!
P.S. You can also take up internships and jobs that are wholly unrelated to your field. You can try calligraphy too! (Steve Jobs will be proud)
So to get back to my original question – What to do after 12th? I guess You finally have some idea.
Wrapping it Up!
I hope I have convinced you that taking a gap year after school is not as disastrous as people make it out to be. But the ultimate obstacle remains – telling your parents. In my experience, if you really want to and put the effort in, you can convince them too. Make them see the benefits. Make them read this blog if you need the help!
Our attempt at Univariety has always been to take you from a state of confusion to clarity about your future career option. And taking a gap year will give you the luxury of time to be aware of your wants and make the right decision about your future. And if you need our help, we are always available.