Will a gap year benefit or disadvantage my daughter?

My daughter has just completed her Plus Two (science with maths) but did not get admission into the college of her choice. She is not very happy with the other options available and wants to take a gap year. Will a gap year help her or will it be a disadvantage?
— Shyama C, Bangalore

Your daughter will benefit from a gap year only if she is focused, disciplined and has a plan of action. Otherwise it may end up being a long unproductive holiday. Discuss her plan for the gap year with her. What new skill, education-related interest or passion does she plan to pursue in these 12 months? I don’t recommend a gap year if your daughter is not mature enough to plan and take responsibility for her time.

My daughter loves maths but dislikes science. She doesn’t want to study commerce or accounts in Plus Two. Can you suggest some other study options?
— Marlyn D’Souza, Mumbai

Most Indian colleges/ schools don’t offer maths without science/commerce in Plus Two. I suggest you consult a professional career counsellor who can help identify her personality, capabilities and career interests through structured aptitude tests. This will help her choose the appropriate study programme and career path.

My son has scored 60-70 percent in all subjects in class X (CBSE). He is interested in making a career in drama or media. Which subjects should he opt for in class XI?
— Rohini Mehta, Bangalore

CBSE offers a choice of many humanities subjects in Plus Two. Among them: fine arts (painting, applied/commercial arts, graphics, etc); dance, music, media studies, etc. However not all schools offer this wide bouquet of subjects in classes XI-XII. You need to research and select a CBSE school which offers your choice of subjects. Moreover since many students change their minds over a period of two years, have a Plan B career option as well, based on his evolving interests and aptitude, and opt for subjects such as psychology/sociology. This will qualify him for an undergrad degree in mass media/theatre with psychology/sociology.

My son is a tennis player and has won several district level tournaments. He wants to participate in state and national tournaments but his school is not willing to allow him too many days off because he is in class XII. How do I convince the school management to accommodate his traveling schedule?
— Sharath Saxena, Delhi

Unfortunately, most school managements are obsessed with excellent board exam results and discourage extra-curricular and sports activities. I recommend that you have a frank discussion with the school management, explaining your son’s interest in sports with facts and figures and explain how this will positively impact the school’s reputation. If they still refuse to accommodate, I suggest shifting him to a new school which encourages sports education.

(Srinath Deshakulkarni is a career counselor and senior advisor of Academics & Beyond, Bangalore)

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