Productive Alternative to a Gap Year: Run a Business!

It has always been true, but perhaps with college having become a default societal setting it is even more obvious now — there are a vast number of students attending college with absolutely no idea why they are there! Unfortunately, many will leave deeply in dept, not terribly more skilled than when they started, and — even more importantly — not terribly more informed about what they want out of life. Like it or not, as academic sages far smarter than I am have pointed out, college is the new high school. One homeschool dad had an alternative idea, a productive way to provide his students with a leg up on both skills and life goals: have them run a business!

While some likely college-bound students took a gap year (as though THAT would help them know their future plans), Ray Sheen had a different plan. He and his wife would pay for the college education of his two daughters — after they had run their own business for a year.

In our view, this was an important entrepreneurial track to their education. They needed to know how the world works before they could know what they wanted from college….

[T]hey needed to learn what it takes to plan their work, manage their time, interact with customers and vendors, handle the finances, and so on. Perhaps most importantly, we thought it would help them figure out the perennial question — What do I want to do with my life? — before they had to choose the right college and declare a major.

What are some advantages of being an entrepreneur, no matter what your final profession? You:

  • Become smarter about business.
  • Learn how to manage projects and manage inventory.
  • Learn how to keep the books and understand finance.
  • Learn how to interact with customers.
  • Understand how a business operates — sales, marketing, etc.
  • Brush up on various skills, such as speaking, writing, and time management.
  • Learn to be accountable and make tough decisions.
  • Find your passion, which will ultimately lead to a satisfying life.

One of the advantages of a learning lifestyle is helping our students find their passions. But in case yours doesn’t have a business in mind, Sheen offers several suggestions for gaining similar experience through other situational options.

Of course, the easiest way to mentor our children through the process is to do it ourselves — and that is becoming far easier as many homeschool moms and dads run a business on the side.

And, by the way, once they have managed their own businesses, your students may find the expense of college an unnecessary burden that ultimately will not move them forward when it comes to doing what they want to do!

You can real the entire article at Harvard Business Review.

Additional Resources

GoVenture Entrepreneur Simulation Software
There is simply no substitute for the real thing, but we have enjoyed this interactive in our family starting at younger ages to help students become familiar with all that is involved.

10 Tips for Providing a Non-Generic Education
Our approach.

14 Ways to Plan Studies Around an Interest

14 Ways to Plan Studies Around an Interest
Start early!

4 Ways to Provide Time for Productive Interests
How to fit it in.

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