Watch out for the gap: young Vietnamese take time to gain experience in life

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Tran Minh Bach decided to enter an international university in Ho Chi Minh City a year later than his friends to “not waste his parents’ money.”

“The tuition is around 320 million VND ($ 14,050) per year, 10 to 20 times higher than that of public universities, so I was hesitant, afraid of dropping out of my studies,” Bach said. , now in first year.

While reflecting, he asked his parents to let him start his university life a year later to have more time to improve his English and other skills, so that he could be confident in continuing his university program. .

“I also wanted to use the time to think about what I really like,” Bach said.

In Hanoi, Hoang Dung is another student who delayed his studies at the University of Foreign Trade in 2018.

“I ‘gave up’ because I wanted to take the time to find out what I’m good at, what I love to do, discover new jobs and new places,” Dung said, adding he was confused afterwards. have studied at university for two years. .

Bach and Dung are among the many Vietnamese to pursue a gap year, popular among some young Westerners. A sabbatical year typically occurs when students move from high school to college or while studying at university.

Bach before knowing the sabbatical years. Photo courtesy of Tran Minh Bach

Recent research shows that 230,000 18-25 year olds take a gap year each year in the UK, and the trend is only growing as 72% of young people prefer to spend money on experiences rather than material things .

In the United States, 20% of freshmen at Harvard have chosen to postpone their admission to 2020 because students took a year off rather than starting their elite education online amid the Covid pandemic. 19. At MIT, 8% of freshmen differed, up from 1% normally, depending on the university.

Professor Truong Nguyen Thanh, former vice president of Hoa Sen University in Saigon, a lecturer at the University of Utah and some Vietnamese universities, said sabbaticals are not really popular in Vietnam but that they would increase in the times to come.

“The pandemic has made many families unable to send their children to university. Many young people will postpone entering university or book their studies and go to work for a while before returning to school,” he said. Thanh said.

One of the reasons the sabbatical year would gain popularity is the growing awareness of independence among young people. In August 2020, the British Council conducted research on 1,200 young Vietnamese between the ages of 16 and 30 and found that around 40% felt pressured by their families to study or work in particular fields in which they showed little of interest.

At first, Bach’s parents disagreed with their son’s choice, claiming that no one had taken sabbaticals.

Dung also knew that his parents would not support him, so when he announced that he would drop out of school, he asked them not to give him a monthly allowance.

With only 70,000 VND in his wallet, the man from Hai Phong Town had to ask his friends for food and learn that he must live well before pursuing his passions.

According to a 2015 survey by the Gap Year Association and Temple University in the United States, people spending a year away from universities said that the sabbaticals helped them expand their knowledge and acquire the skills needed to be successful in life. .

Postponing admission for a while can also lead to higher grades later, according to a study from the University of Middlebury, United States.

But sabbaticals are a “double-edged sword” as young people can use them as an excuse to quit school, wasting their time and losing motivation for their studies, Thanh warned.

“90 percent of students who took a year off before going to graduate school did not return. Those who took a year off before going to undergraduate courses are at higher risk as their life goal is not clear and they may lose their habit of studying, ”he said. noted.

Dung is now CEO of a company specializing in the recruitment and career guidance of students.  Photo courtesy of Hoang Dung

Dung is now CEO of a company specializing in the recruitment and career guidance of students. Photo courtesy of Hoang Dung

During his gap year, Bach aimed to improve his English to achieve an IELTS score of 6.5. He worked part-time in a cafe and sold shoes and clothes, so he didn’t have to ask his parents for money.

“With a clear purpose, I never felt lost. I learned patience by going to work. And I’m proud to have been able to learn a lot from the talented people I know.”

However, he felt worried early in his student life at the international university.

“The gap year helped me better prepare for challenges and new relationships, I would have been overwhelmed and I would have had a hard time adjusting if I hadn’t taken the gap year”, said said the student from Binh Chanh district, HCMC.

Dung worked as a translator during his sabbatical year. Since 2019 he has worked in education, automotive and insurance sales.

With an initial income of VND 2 million per month, at the end of 2020, he caught the attention of Internet users by revealing his monthly income of $ 5,200.

Having done a lot of work, Dung found that practical experience helped him learn better. The more he worked, the more motivated he was to learn.

Last year, he returned to school to complete his classes before graduation. Currently, he spends up to four hours a day learning new knowledge and sometimes pays for classes given by famous businessmen in Vietnam.

At 23, Dung is CEO of a company specializing in the recruitment and career guidance of students.

“After all, the sabbaticals are not a waste, but a preparation for the acceleration of life,” Dung said, adding that the sabbaticals did not press the stop button when it came to. of university life.


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