A gap year is not an idle holiday but a time for young people to discover their direction, purpose and passion.
Taking a break can sometimes be a necessity and when this break stretches out over a long period of time, it can turn into a gap year.
For some, this year is a holiday during which one catches up on travel and seeing the world. For others, this is an opportunity to explore, to find alternative careers, to wander into other fields of study that may not have been one's first interest.
There are no real rules to taking a gap year but whether you're taking it right after sitting for your Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) or your pre-university examinations, or even if you're in the middle of your career, it helps to be prepared.
In this issue, StarEducate highlights some interesting gap year adventures that Malaysians have had.
Delving into her psyche
After her pre-university programme, Faith Chong, 21, had planned to further her studies in the field of psychology but before she began her course, she decided to have a gap year.
"During that time, I travelled. When I was back, I took up a part-time job and then I was offered an internship at a therapy centre," she recalls.
That internship turned out to be a valuable contribution to her future.
"From my gap year, I became more independent and also came to realise that psychology, which was what I was planning to study (at the time), was much broader than I thought it was.
"I discovered so much more about myself and about what I was interested to do in the future," she says, adding that the experience she gained from her internship has helped in her studies now.
"I gained the knowledge and experience that I now feel helps me when I study the theoretical part of psychology."
It was also during her internship that Faith became certain that psychology was the area of study she was passionate about.
"Without the break, I think I would have pursued my studies in the field but with no idea of what it was actually all about. The gap year really helped me to stop and think for a moment instead of just rushing through life."
Faith says that she was able to convince her mother but her father was "never completely supportive".
"He thought it was a waste of time but after a year, he realised that I had grown and he's never said anything about it since."
Faith is now studying a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology, at the University of Melbourne, Australia.
From dog owner to certified groomer
Although she has only just received her SPM results, Sabrina Lim is already an internationally certified dog groomer working at a professional pet salon.
During her last year in secondary school, the 17-year old knew that she did not enjoy studying and wanted to try something else before taking the more traditional route and going straight to college.
"I decided to groom dogs because I liked them and I wanted to be more involved with animals, rather than just being an owner," she says.
During her training, she learnt the basics of grooming, including dog bathing, ear cleaning and nail cutting.
Sabrina has two miniature schnauzers - Kuro and Shiro - which she grooms herself.
Her family members, who collectively own close to 10 dogs, were ecstatic when she chose this route.