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
I am a leadership coach, but also do
some life and career coaching. I see
quite a few people between 35 and 45
years of age 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 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 B Comm 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 programme, officially called the
Young Minds Entrepreneurship
Programme run by USB-Ed.
It 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 wish to orientate themselves
in life. At the same time, they learn
business and entrepreneurship skills. I
saw 19 such 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 they expect me to live
till 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.
V Reinhard Moors is a Professional
Coach (MA Middlesex Univ. UK).