How to make the most of your retake year
Failed an exam or graduating a year late? Use the time to figure out a clearer future career plan and prepare for it.
Failing an exam is not the end of the world, repeating a year is not Armageddon. Instead, students who have viewed a dreaded re-take as a gap year have found that it gave them a chance to hit refresh, think ahead and plan better for the immediate future.
“It’s not easy. In a competitive market everyone wants consistency and this means you need to work hard to make sure you don’t end up at a disadvantage,” says Fatima Agarkar, co-founder of education consultancy KA EduAssociates. “Some sharp planning can help you overcome the situation. Pick relevant university-approved online courses. It doesn’t even have to be in your chosen field. For instance, an engineering student could take up a course in communication, and end up with certification that will make him seem more industry-ready and versatile.”
For Varsha Rohra, 26, who repeated a year at the Watumull Institute of Electronics Engineering and Computer Technology before graduating in 2015, the year became an opportunity to explore other interests. “I taught science to college students for a while,” she says. Eventually, she got a job as a business analyst and worked at it for two years.
“Eventually I moved, and now I work as a speech and drama instructor. That break helped me realise that teaching was something I really liked,” she says.
Activities in a gap year can also give a student clarity on their goals, says Kimberly Dixit, CEO and co-founder of study-abroad consultancy The Red Pen. “One student we worked with had performed poorly in his first year at a top engineering programme in the US. After a break he became involved in some writing projects and realised his heart wasn’t in engineering. He transferred to a liberal arts college and is now working towards a career as a content creator.”
For Zubin Sherif, 30, the need to make up for the lost year really hit when he was in his second year and most of his batchmates were graduating.
“I had failed in three subjects and had to repeat the first year,” he says. “I decided the best way to make good of the situation was to try and get a fresh slate with a good postgraduate degree.”
He managed to get into Christ University, Bengaluru, for a Masters in financial management. “In those two years, I tried to make the most of the place. I participated in every finance event and was even editor of the department magazine,” he says.
Sherif managed a high score and later got a job with Oracle. “The discussion at the interview was centered on all I was doing during my post-graduation, so the gap in college got just a passing mention,” he says.
A crucial thing that got him through was determination, Sherif says. “There will always be people who will tell you that you are not cut out for the course that you have failed in. I think it is important to not listen to others. Take a decision based on your assessment of yourself, and then stick with it,” he says.
Don’t overthink it, and don’t delay and procrastinate, adds Agarkar of KA EduAssociates. “Students need to remind themselves that they only have a few months, and start moving forward immediately so they don’t stall,” she says.
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