I don’t think it’s news to anyone over 30 that it’s certainly a different world today than it ever has been.
When I was in sight of graduation, and even when our two oldest kids were Junior and Seniors in high school, college was a “given.” Tech school was for kids who couldn’t “cut it” (I’m not trying to be mean, that’s just what the perspective was, at least for the people I knew), there was no such thing as a “gap year”, and homeschooling was just…well, it was just not “done.”
Life – our culture and our society – is certainly different these days.
Upon graduation from high school, teens are hit full-on with deciding their future; with figuring out their next steps. Really they could/should have been giving it some thought all along, of course, but while school is in session, there are enough tests, and parties, and labs, and spring breaks, and part-time jobs, and preparing for their driver’s license, and team sports and rehearsals to effectively distract them from giving serious thought and preparation to their post-high school life.
Often, because teens may not be ready to make a choice, or even because there are just so many career and study choices open to these young adults, gap years are a common and viable option that allow some exploration and breathing space. Additionally, there is a myriad of programs and opportunities that are alternatives to college that our homeschooled young adults can consider for furthering their education, development and career prep after receiving a high school sheepskin. These may be especially relevant for young people with an entrepreneurial bend; who may have already started their own business in high school as part of their coursework. (See Creative Electives for your High School Student and How to Assign High School Credit to Life Learning Opportunities)
One of the more interesting gap or bridge year programs I’ve found recently is one called Praxis.
What is Praxis?
Praxis is more than a program or a company to me. It’s the embodiment of a mindset and a way of life. It is a tangible way to help people live free, self-directed lives. It’s a community and a set of resources and ideas and businesses and participants built around the understanding that no conveyor belt can lead you to the life you want, and no structure you don’t choose and create yourself will bring you fulfillment.
The format behind Praxis certainly is not new: think modern-day apprenticeship. Complete with plenty of one-on-one time with a mentor/coach who will help your young adult navigate additional learning, business training and navigating the world of the work environment.
But lest you think this is just a “get out of jail/college” card for young people aged 17-26 (the general age range of participants), I’d encourage you to take some time to read the words of its founder. Read about his own history (he is a homeschool graduate), and his thoughts on why he started the company. He is a prolific writer, and his views on education are refreshingly practical and yet radical.
Who is Praxis for?
Interestingly enough, and probably to our society’s detriment, there are not many young people going into manual trades these days. Plumbers, electricians, auto mechanics, A/C technicians, carpenters, and the like are not being replaced as older tradespeople retire. And this program, unfortunately, does not necessarily speak to that issue.
Praxis better serves those young people heading for careers in business, marketing, computers, and other office-type positions, although with its emphasis on entrepreneurship and management skills, it may be something that those heading for a trade may want to consider as they start and then build their own businesses in those fields.
The benefits of Praxis
Nobody can argue that the cost of college is exorbitant. And even with a pedigree degree and stellar grades, there is NO guarantee that a college graduate, saddled with debt along with that degree, will find a job both in their field with a salary enabling them to pay off said debt. Possible exceptions may be careers in law and/or medicine.
You may also want to watch this video outlining some reasons why an alternative to college may be a better deal. (Funny, but oh-so-relateable!)
While Praxis participants earn money during their training experience, part of the program includes a job offer at the end of the apprenticeship program. Now this may not be the job of their dreams, of course, but the program does offer benefits that college simply cannot:
- no college debt baggage as they start their adult life
- full-time on-the-job training relevant to their career choice
- confidence and experience gained after spending at least nine months in the “real world”, learning how to navigate the waters, make mistakes in a safe learning environment, and develop business acumen
- development of an entrepreneurial mindset and practical skills necessary to run a business
- leadership growth in the marketplace
What Praxis does not do
Praxis is not a degree program. Your teen will not leave her experience with any kind of initials after her name, or a piece of paper to frame and hang on the wall. What she will leave with is solid experience gained from paid on-the-job training, after six months of working closely with a mentor/coach. The possibility exists for her to move right into a permanent position at the company where she was trained, and at the very least, she will have quality references and real-world skills should she choose to move on.
One potential challenge you might face is if you’re located in a rural area. While Praxis makes every effort to find a training/employment opportunity for you to work with locally to your home, should you so desire to stay local, their pool of businesses is mostly located in urban areas. Of course, if your student was to go to college, chances are they’d be leaving home also, right?
It’s always good to get first-hand feedback, so why not take a minute and listen to what this Praxis student has to say about it?
Application to the program is easy and personal. They support you all the way and provide a dedicated staff person to walk you through the process and answer questions as they come up. As a parent, I appreciated that I could not only reach them via email (which they promptly answered) but also had a phone number so I could discuss my questions with a real, live person!
Participation in Praxis allows your teen to skip college debt and cut the apron strings at the same time. No more extended enforced dependency on mom and dad while your son or daughter is away at school, most likely over-socializing and often inadequately preparing for their future. (And here I speak from experience…)
- Visit the Praxis website to find out more about it for yourself.
- And follow them on Facebook to see what others are saying and keep up with their progress!