Our son, Cameron, will be graduating in May and so many people have asked if he’s taking a gap year before college.
We’ve talked with our kids for so long about planning for the future, preparing for college, and making choices now that will prepare them for life after high school.
Why would we consider a “gap year” rather than moving straight into the plans we’d been working toward?
The word gap is defined as an empty space or interval, interruption in continuity, or hiatus.
A gap year is a year-long break in the movement between high school and college. Some say it is a time to pause and refocus goals.
What if your child still isn’t sure they want to attend college? Can you enjoy the benefits of a gap year if you are focusing on a career instead?
Here are a few ideas on how to make your child’s transition from high school purposeful.
Make A Connection
As the popularity of gap year programs increases, finding a good fit is a little easier to do than in years past. There are a host of gap year programs available, but be careful in your selection process.
Be certain to thoroughly investigate the host organization, closely analyze the requirements, and match your child’s skills with the gap program so that they can be challenged but still feel accomplished in the end.
A simple search for “gap year programs” or “Christian gap year programs” will reveal a plethora of opportunities. A personal favorite is Youth On A Mission – YWAM.
If your child has already determined what career field he or she is interested in pursuing, internships are a great way to see which skills are most valuable.
Sometimes an internship is a paid position which would allow the student to earn income in their chosen field while determining their next steps in education.
Even if your student doesn’t take on a formal internship, taking time to shadow a business owner or someone in the areas in which he or she has an interest, will reveal a lot about the career field.
Perhaps your student is looking toward work in the mission field, but would like a degree prior to stepping out.
It could be difficult to know which classes would be most helpful. Which foreign language would be useful? Will the mission board through whom they will work have requirements that could be met through their degree?
A gap year immersed in the study of the culture in which they will be working can aid in the determination of their studies.
It’s also worth remembering that not all mission work is done on foreign soil. Christ is needed in every corner, whether across the globe or across the state.
Medical missions bring a different approach but are still a wonderful opportunity to marry an interest in the medical field with the adventure of helping with less fortunate populations.
Finally, ask your student where they see themselves in a few short years.
What type of lifestyle do they envision? What will be required to maintain that lifestyle?
Do they long for a “corner office” or time spent outside? What interests or hobbies do they hope to instill in their children one day?
By looking closely at the lifestyle they hope to have, they will have a better idea at which career fields will support or hinder that lifestyle.
As far as Cameron’s goals, he’s decided that a career in Culinary Arts is what holds his heart.
Who knows, he may own the next food truck in inner city Chicago as he feeds and prays for the homeless.
Never underestimate the strength and resolve of your children, for they can surely exceed our greatest expectations.
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