Should gap years be compulsory?

Anthea Wong, 17, Hong Kong International School

After the stress and strain of high school and/or university, many young people are tempted to take a year off before continuing with their education or starting their career. Gap years may be fun and relaxing, and provide a golden opportunity to explore the world. But they could also ruin a person's future.

Many students use the gap year to have a good time instead of enriching their lives.

As a result, after a year of relaxation, students are in permanent 'holiday mode'. They may be reluctant to settle back into their normal routines, whether it be university or employment. Consequently, they may not take their education or career seriously.

Gap years are a waste of time and money, especially for students planning to go on an year-long overseas vacation. Besides, students who borrow money for the trip may find it hard to pay back the loans.

Gap years should not be compulsory because they could interrupt students' education and job opportunities and have an adverse effect on their future.

Ronald Ling Pak-ki, 18, SKH Bishop Mok Sau Tseng Secondary School

Some of you may be unfamiliar with the term 'gap year'. It means a year-long break from studies.

I love this idea because it marks a different stage in a student's life.

I believe a gap year should be made compulsory for all students before being admitted to university or before being promoted to Year Two. During this period, they can travel, work or become a volunteer.

Apart from broadening their horizons and acquiring new skills, teenagers can use a gap year to reflect on the past and plan for the future. Faced with a lot of tests and exams, many teenagers are under tremendous pressure. They don't have a clear target and can easily go astray.

This could be disastrous for them as well as society.

Therefore, gap years should be made compulsory. Students should be encouraged to engage in various activities during this 12-month break.