There are many arguments for and against taking a so-called gap-year after leaving school. I would like to paint this picture from a different angle. I am a Leadership Coach, but also do some life and career coaching. I see quite a few people aged between 35-45 who want to talk to me about changing their careers. There are various reasons for their decision, but the one that stands out is that they think they should have never entered their chosen career path to start off with. When I question them on why they chose it in the first place, they give reasons such as, “My parents pushed me into this”, or “My friends all wanted to do this”. Often school leavers don’t know what they want to do after school and so they study something “to get behind their name”; this could be a general BCom or BA that leads to a job and getting stuck in a particular career path. Although I am glad to help my clients today, I thought it good to give some advice to today’s school leavers and their parents.
As a coach, I had the privilege to be part of the Stellenbosch University GAP year program, officially called the Young Minds Entrepreneurship Programme run by USB-ed. The program is aimed at learners who are unsure about what they want to do after school and it gives them an opportunity to understand themselves better and how they want to orientate themselves in life. At the same time, they learn business and entrepreneurship skills. I saw 19 of the of the young men on the programme as their personal coach.
One thing I learned from working with them is that if you are unsure what to do after school, take some time out and do something constructive while you figure it out. My investment analyst told me that they expect me to live ‘til 95, so I need to plan my finances accordingly. So, who cares if you are unsure about what you want to do at 18,19 or 20? Rather take time and figure out why you are here and what you are meant to do. It will save you a lot of pain in years to come. None of the young men I coached on the programme this year regretted taking the year out to figure this out. Many changed their minds during the year on what they thought they were interested in and are entering next year with clear plans about their future. In short, if you not sure what you want to study, take a constructive GAP year.
Reinhard Moors
Professional Coach (MA Middlesex Univ. UK)