Plan a productive gap year

Plan a productive gap year



Dear Madam, 

Our daughter is good at extracurricular activities, particularly sports. But she shows less interest in studies. She is in high school now, and we are a bit worried about her future as we feel that having a basic degree is essential. Also, sports academies are expensive. While we want to encourage her, we want her to pursue her studies as well.

We need your suggestion on this. 



Dear Sumathi,

It is best for you to have some open communication around this issue with your daughter. Ask her what she would like to do and how she would like to achieve it. Your children need to live out their dreams. We parents should only be playing the role of facilitators — helping them find their passions and facilitating their path to fulfilling their dreams.

It is natural for all parents to be worried about the future of their children, but it is important to always remember, that you cannot control it. Yes, it is helpful to have a basic degree, but it is not necessary to be the highest academic achiever. Help her discover avenues where she would be able to leverage her strengths in extracurricular activities to live a meaningful life. Thinking outside the box is helpful.


Dear Madam, 

I am a Class 12 student. I want to take one year break after my Board exams and take up other activities that interest me. But, my parents are concerned about it. They feel it will be difficult for me to get back to academics. I am in a dilemma. Please suggest. 



Dear Surya,

Many students take a gap year after Class 12. However, I think it is preferable to secure your admission now rather than after a year (because then you have a clear plan and you are done with appearing for exams, etc.) and secondly you should have something concrete to show for the year you spent out of the formal education system — could be an internship, a project you worked on, a skill you learnt, a book you wrote, or anything specific.

It should be time well spent, not time just idled away. If you can come up with a good plan of how you can spend the year productively, in whichever way possible, then they may have more confidence in letting you go for it. It is best to remember that unless you are conscious of it, and doing something to avoid it, it is very easy to slip into an unstructured aimless pattern of life, which is probably what your parents fear. All the best!


Dear Madam, 

I have observed that many of my students spend a lot of time on the Internet. While some use it constructively, others seem to have got addicted to it. Many worried parents approach us on this. How we, as teachers, can help them? 



Dear Anjali,

Internet addiction is becoming a big problem at this time that requires addressing. Many youngsters are using the Internet as a source of distraction from work, social interaction, and oftentimes even from themselves.

It is a safe place to hide for many while giving an outward appearance of being meaningfully engaged in work or social activity. I think as teachers who have a huge influence on young minds, it is important to discuss these issues in class. For students in whom you see this as an acute problem that is affecting academic and social outcomes, it may be a good idea to offer them a safe non-judgmental space where you can help them explore what they are gaining from the Internet, and what they are escaping from.

If there is a counsellor in your school, it would help to direct the students to him or her.

NIMHANS now has the SHUT clinic (Service for the Healthy Use of Technology) to which you can guide families where you find the situation becoming unhealthy.


Dear Madam,

I am a degree student. Of late, I am not able to concentrate on studies. I either think of my friends or certain random incidents that happened in college. I want to score good marks. Please help me. 



Dear Shriya,

Your goal should not necessarily be to score good marks, but rather to learn all there is to learn (and in that process if you score good marks as well, then that is a bonus). If you are not able to concentrate, it may be helpful for you to talk to a counsellor to understand for yourself what is distracting you and why.

What you are thinking about your “friends and certain random incidents that happened” will give you an insight into yourself and how you could address the distraction. It is not possible for me to say anything without understanding your thought process.

It will be helpful for you to talk to a counsellor either face-to-face, or over the phone, to understand how you are processing events in your life, and how you can understand them and gain a perspective on them that may be more helpful for you.

You could also reach out to the free Parivarthan Counselling Helpline at +91 76766 02602 to get support from a counsellor.