This is a topic that comes up periodically when I chat with parents of high school homeschoolers. I was encouraged to see an article in the May/June issue of HSLDA's Court Report dealing with this very topic! I think that Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer have provided some excellent ideas in their suggestions for that first post-high school year.
In case you haven't had time to read the article, please allow me to summarize here and offer some thoughts of my own ...
- Take time to mature ... a very valid point which discusses the differences between those kids who are "born old" and those who may be "late bloomers" when it comes to deciding what to do in life after high school is ended.
- Gain a year's job experience ... another good option for kids whose financial status requires them to bulk up their bank account a bit before heading off to college or pursuing a different life's goal. College debt can be a huge burden, so this may be a valid choice for kids seeking increased financial stability from the very beginning.
- Explore the globe - this is one I wish I had thought of as a high school senior! Let's face it, most of us won't have this kind of opportunity again once we are married, or begin a full-time job. So if your student has dreamed of travel and is financially able to swing it, this may be a great time to fulfill that dream.
- Find ministry opportunities - short-term missions is a wonderful avenue for gaining personal experience and exploring possibilities for future ministry. Our daughter took part in a 6 week ministry opportunity the summer between graduation and college. It was a tremendous experience that gained her valuable people skills and increased maturity.
- Pursue special interests - perhaps you have a student who excels in music, or a specialized trade or even a foreign language. A year of additional exposure may give them a leg-up when applying to college or seeking a job in their field of interest.
But are there any downsides to taking a year off between high school and college? A couple come to mind. Having spoken to some who have done so, it can be difficult to get back into the "swing" of academia once you've experienced a year away from the demands of a schedule. There may also be some scholarship opportunities that are only available if you are entering college immediately following high school.
Ultimately, it will depend entirely on your student's circumstances and goals, but it is nice to know that there are a world of options available to choose from!