This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Taking Gap Year after Graduation, Interview with Jonathan Brush. This post is running concurrently on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast Network.
Taking Gap Year after Graduation, Interview with Jonathan Brush
Gap years are becoming a more and more popular idea. Our new friend, Jonathan Brush, offered to talk about this concept with us.
Jonathan Brush is president and CEO of Unbound, an organization that develops young Christian leaders, and Ascend, a gap-year program. Jonathan himself is a homeschool graduate and homeschools his kids. Two of those have graduated, one is in high school, with more to follow. He’s “been there and has been there”!
Jonathan was a pioneer as a homeschooler: he was the first homeschool graduate to attend his college. Then he went on to work for the college as director of admissions for eleven years. Then he worked for several year for College Plus (some of us old timers remember those early days of online college opportunities). College Plus became Unbound and is thriving in the new format!
Unbound’s Ascend gap-year program is timely. With the expense of college, it is wise to have future plans sorted out at least somewhat before they launch into that commitment. Jonathan points out that high schoolers are expected to have answers for questions about the future that they don’t even know how to ask yet: What’s your future career? What’s your major? (With the implication that if they don’t know the answers, they are sunk.)
How to Handle the Gap Year
This is not not the best way to handle career decision making. Teens often can’t know their future yet, because the job market is so ever-changing that there will be careers in a few years that don’t even exist now.
Gap year is a logical response to this. Gap year is a great way to stop and move from an “I have to have the answers paradigm” to an “I am asking questions” paradigm. Let me ask questions and move through a process of growth and discovery. Gap years give teens an opportunity for that.
Jonathan also points out that higher education has changed over the last few years. Traditionally, teens went immediately to college, lived in dorms, graduated in four years. These days, there are so many formats and timelines for college, that young people have choices that best fits their needs. Delaying one year will not negatively impact homeschool graduates.
Some questions homeschool high schoolers can ask about gap year:
If your homeschool graduate would like to take a gap year, use the time to move through this list of questions.
- Do I need a college degree?
- If I can’t immediately answer “yes”, then don’t start getting one yet. If you answer “no”, don’t get guilted or pressured into tackling a college degree. You can always get a degree later if you find it is necessary.
- How can I begin an exercise of curiosity and answer these questions:
- What would I like to learn about?
- What kinds of things to I want to do?
- What’s the best way to do that?
- Gap years can be years of travel, study, work, missions, exploration (or programs like Ascend).
The key for a successful gap year is to be deliberate!
Keep working on clarifying the questions you want to ask and follow up with plans for exploration.
Here’s a plan:
Use a “deciding forward” model.
This is a simple way to learn into exploration and decision making.
- Step 1: Decide on a goal, not a fancy goal, just something simple that can be measured as success (it can be a small success goal or a larger success goal.)
- Step 2: Decide on a first step and carry it out
- Step 3: Lock in your learning: Reflect on what you learned in that first step
- Step 4: Decide if you want to keep on pursuing this goal or change goals (this is the purpose of gap year- exploration! Deciding not to pursue something is as important as deciding to pursue something.)
- Step 5: Decide on a new goal or a new next step. Keep moving!
Some things homeschool graduates have done for gap year:
- Travel or take a trek
- Earn some general education or exploring-interests college credits
- Make some money and learn to manage money well
- Explore careers of different kinds
- Ministry, volunteer work or missions
- Unbound program
Just remember to live deliberately! Think about what you want to do next. Follow the process and repeat as often as necessary. It is a way to intentionally live forward.
Gap year is an intentional process of discovery!
What is the role of parents in gap years?
Use a coaching model:
Keep asking the questions of the above model with your gap year homeschool graduates. (Don’t give answers, rather, help them think through their own answers. Keep asking questions.)
Unbound is a projects-based education company. There’s a place for hard-core academics but not for all students. Jonathan has found that many young people need real skills more than they need the on-campus college degree. Students at Unbound work on real projects that really prepare them for the workforce. They also work on team projects to gain the team-member skills necessary for today’s job market. Teens work on leadership roles in various team capacities as well. Graduates of Unbound earn a certification as well as employable skills.
Unbound is a mostly online program. There are three live events (all expenses are paid to go to the events) as well. This is a variable-length program (one-three years).
There is also opportunity to work on transferrable college credit for those who want or need this.
There are networking and employment opportunities at “graduation” from the program.
This makes a phenomenal gap year program.
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