Gap Year--Transitioning from High School to...What Next?
Congratulations to all parents graduating their teens from high school. Our hats are off to you, Moms and Dads!
Some of your teens may have definite plans for the next step, but often high school graduation brings up the question of "What next?" especially for students who do not have clear direction for the future. Honestly addressing your teen's indecision can take some of the pressure off and prevent hasty decisions not in your teen's best interest. A gap or transition year immediately following graduation will give your teen time to gather his thoughts, look into career possibilities, or simply grow and mature. Let's investigate some available opportunities and benefits a gap year affords.
Children don't necessarily mature at the same rate. There are those who are "born old," while others are "late bloomers." Usually the former group knows what they want to do in life and how to go about doing it. The latter group, however, are often at a loss as to the next step and may feel anxious about it (especially when continually asked "What's next?" by well meaning friends and acquaintances). So, encourage your teen to discover what the Lord has in store. It will save both of you time, money, and anxiety through the following years. "God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life" by Gene Edward Veith, Jr. (provost of Patrick Henry College) is a good resource to promote meaningful discussions in this regard.
Maybe your children need a year or more to earn money for future prospects. Taking time to work not only provides necessary income but also gives your teens new responsibilities and skills that often continue to be profitable throughout their adult lives. The people they meet and/or work alongside of may be used by God to direct them into a path not previously considered while also providing advice on how to accomplish your teen's goals. On our website, there are some resources to aid in helping your teens create resumes and improve interview skills.
Another possibility for a gap year could include participating in short term missions. This is often more doable when our children are single. Taking time after high school for cross-cultural experiences broadens their view of the world and reminds them of the need to share the gospel. Many mission agencies offer opportunities for various lengths of time and encourage young people to participate. We recommend investigating agencies your church supports or mission trips it may be sponsoring.
In addition, Torchbearer Bible School and Saints Bible Institute offer study abroad opportunities in the context of mission work that may, in some cases, earn college credits. We also list a number of other mission organizations on our website which offer programs for teen involvement.
Your teen will come to more fully understand the Lord's command to go into all the world with the gospel while experiencing it firsthand. Afterwards, trust the Lord to use these opportunities to instill a desire in your teen to be an ambassador for Christ at home, on the college campus, or in the workplace.
For some teens, seeing the world or at least a part of it is their dream. A gap year can provide them the time and opportunity to travel. This may take the form of traveling with family. Or it may be in conjunction with a music tour, an academic tour, visiting missionaries you support, or visiting family members living abroad. There are many possibilities to meet every budget.
Remember, if your teen is planning a trip abroad, he or she will need to have a current passport. Leave plenty of time to acquire the necessary documentation and any required inoculations. Should your teen be very adventuresome and wish to travel with other adventurous friends, staying in hostels may reduce travel costs.
Before launching into college, a career, or the military, your teen can obtain additional training in a particular area of interest. This will help him or her gain a broader perspective of career possibilities while being strengthened academically and spiritually.
For example, if your teen enjoys learning languages and wants to become fluent in one, this year would be a good time to delve into this pursuit. It may be as simple as working with someone in their community who is a native speaker or possibly through an immersion program. On our website we list a couple of language programs.
On the other hand, if emergency preparedness is what rings his or herbell, then have your teen check out such programs as ALERT Academy. Maybe a year takinginteresting classes while being involved in challenging volunteeractivities will transition your teen to the next step. In this regard, Impact 360 or other similarprograms would be worth considering.
We've provided only a sampling of the many opportunities available to your teens. For additional ideas, check out resources and books on the subject, some of which are referenced on our website. Others can be found in bookstores or on the Internet.
Also visit the College Board website for information on how colleges view a gap year.
Homeschool families whose teens benefited from a gap year are another reliable source for help. So don't hesitate to ask about their experiences and seek their advice and suggestions.
Remember that a gap year is a year to further the development of your teen, not an excuse to escape from studying or being engaged in worthwhile endeavors! If you think a year of transition would be beneficial for your teen, know that the Lord will bring just the right solution to you.
Join us next month for a look at being wise and prudent in developing friendships. We know how much pressure there is today for teens to conform to our culture.
Transitioning to summer,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators
This resource is an article from the Homeschooling Thru Highschool newsletter (6/9/2008), and is provided by the Home School Legal Defense Association as a service to the homeschooling community.