Life after high school, it's different for every student. Some decide to head to work, others grab those college text books, but what about a gap year as you try and decide what's next?
Made famous by the likes of Prince William and former first daughter Malia Obama, a growing number of teens are exploring this post-high school option. In fact, more than 35% of high school seniors are now thinking of taking a gap year, according to a recent survey by TD Ameritrade.
A gap year can take many forms. It could give you the chance to see the world, score a unique internship, give back to your community or give yourself extra time to prepare and pay for college.
The bottom line, there's no longer a one-size fits all for education. And one area high school is taking that mantra to heart as they look to revamp the traditional senior year.
"Is there something we can do as a school that creates a better opportunity for kids to prepare themselves for life after high school?" Principal Scott Martin and the team at Sweet Home high school are now looking to confront that questions head-on. They're in the early stages of developing a program rooted in community collaboration. The goal, to team up with businesses, entrepreneurs and other entities to give students additional experiences outside of the classroom.
"The foundation of what we believe in is that every kid at some point will hit a switch and decide, this is what I want to do." says Martin. "When they make that decision we want them to be able to have the tools and experience to be able to craft that plan that allows them to get there." This, according to Martin, could come in the form of internships, apprenticeships of volunteer opportunities ... essentially a gap year, built into your senior year. "The key here is to provide the student with an experience that allows them to develop a growth mindset so that as they begin to decide what they want to go - they can craft a plan to get there," says Martin.
This program is still in the early stages. As it develops, the district will be involving stakeholders in the creative process, everyone from students, parents and teachers, to community and business leaders. Martin says the goal is to have a pilot plan in place within the next two to three years.
Above all else, Martin says, "We want to make sure we get it right."