Wednesday, February 1, 2017

20 Things to Try After High School (Besides College)

Disclaimer: I'm actually for college degrees. Mostly. I'm just against liberal college campuses. I'm just against unnecessary pressure from everyone that says you must go, and you must go now.

In the day and age when a college degree is the new High School diploma (*ahem* today), I think we are pressuring our teenagers way too much about things that don't really matter.

Why is it just expected I must go off to college for a degree? And if I must, why at such a formative and immature age? Don't get me wrong, now! 18 year olds can be wise, mature, strong... but, they're also extremely susceptible to the molding of their hearts by their peers. 

So, yeah, drop your daughter off in a sea of strange people you already know you don't want her to be like, and leave her there for several years. That sounds like it'll really turn out great.

Take a breath. Give it a year or two. Take online classes. Try Dual Credit at Home.

And... try some of these 20 ideas that have nothing to do with college:

1. Travel.

Visit family and friends. Go to a National Park you've never been to before.

The Grand Canyon with my family, August 2015

Whidbey Island with Mykaela's family, Washington, October 2015

Picnicking at Yosemite with my grandparents, November 2015

2. Invest in missions. 

Don't let me confuse you, though, I don't mean missions to be only in another country or a permanent deal. Just fulfill the Great Commission. Just be willing to serve wherever God opens the door for you to do so. Meet the people, hug the orphans, and serve. Share about Jesus's love as often as you can. Yes, I loved going to Burma, but America is honestly nearly as needy in the area of the Gospel!

For international missions organizations, I have never worked with any, but if I were to, I like these: SOS Ministries, Global Encounters, and IBLP.

There's always so much to do on our own turf, but for specific organizations here in the States, I like In the Gap (Oklahoma City). And the Bill Rice Ranch does a New York City outreach every January I would like to help with some year, if God opens the doors.

Mostly, I just want to be a soul-and-eternity-focused individual. Then, it doesn't matter where I go; I'll always be in my "mission field", because there will always be people around that need to hear about Jesus Christ. And, in the mean time, I want to be a prayer warrior for the people who are called to overseas, full-time missions work. These things are honestly huge investments in missions, and you don't have to go anywhere!

Burma (Myanmar), April 2016

3. Study a foreign language.

Or three! I use DuoLingo for my German studies. (It's the best I've tried for free language-learning sites!) A fun website for learning world geography (because, at least in my head, that kind of goes along with language-learning) is Sheppard Software, and that's also free.

4. Make a quilt.

Even if it's just baby-sized! Here and here are some decent beginner tutorials.

5. Bake.

And take a big ol' tray of whatever you end up with to every fire, police, and EMS station within 20 miles. It's fun! (Just a note: firemen and policemen and all of them, for whatever reason, tend to gravitate towards the classics like chocolate chip cookies or traditional cake. You don't have to get fancy with the coconut and fruity extracts. 😉)

6. Take an art class.

Last summer my family and I took a drawing course from Mark Kistler and Rob from Art for Kids Hub, and I really learned so much!!

7. Learn photography.

One of my favorite photographers (as well as the one who took me from an automatic-setting newbie photographer, to a confident manual shooter who actually understands ISO and proper photo editing) is James Staddon! He has a ton of online resources, does workshops around the country, and has started a little branch of photography missions work! It's the absolute best option for anyone seeking to learn more about photography in a wholesome environment. His website is

Practicing photography at the Event Photography Workshop with James Staddon, April 2015

8. Play for the seniors.

Now, don't take this as a joke. Tune up your instruments, rosin your bows, practice for a week or two, and put on a little concert at any nearby nursing/seniors home. If you don't play, sing! And if you don't have what it takes for a concert within just yourself, gather up your friends and make it big! Maybe some of your church family would like to join. If you are apart of a homeschool group, send out a mass email inviting everyone to join! 

9. Fill up a journal.

Any kind of journal. (Mykaela and I are semi-planning a post on different kinds of journals we keep.)

10. Read through the Bible.

Yep. I mean the whole thing. My personal record is 100 days, but I have a few friends (including Mykaela) who've done it in a month. Can you beat that? If you think you need a year, I recommend this, a "One Year Bible".

11. Learn how to build.

Basics like how to swing a hammer are no longer as common-knowledge as they always were.

12. Purge.

Get rid of those age-old folders with all your award-winning fourth grade coloring pages. If that shirt is 1) too small, 2) a horrible color for your skin tone, and 3) you haven't worn it in three years, please give it to someone who really needs it.

13. Write letters.

(And birthday cards.) In addition to the pen pals I expect you've found since my post on them from last year, write to your siblings, parents, grandparents, and so on. They need to hear what's going on with you, too. And sometimes it's easier to just sit and write it out than actually saying the words.

14. Find something broken, and learn how to fix it.

This modern world gets almost giddy when something breaks, because that gives them something to go out and shop for. We've forgotten that broken things can still be fixed. (Yeah, even marriages.) And we wonder why pollution is so bad?! Even something small like learning how to fix a broken zipper will prove an awesome skill to have for the rest of your life!

15. Read some difficult books.

Not because they're on your assigned reading list, but just because you can be smart, bold, and daring even without the breath of a college professor down your neck. Plus, classic literature is actually pretty cool, if you give it a chance. (Needing inspiration? Check out some of the book lists I've been sharing right here on the blog!)

16. Work at a camp.

The summer of 2015, I did a Ministry Internship at the Bill Rice Ranch, and wouldn't trade that experience for the world! Really! 2015 was a huge and very busy year for me, but BRR was absolutely a highlight, and I'd go again tomorrow if I could. I also really admire the camp ministry at Higher Grounds Ministry Mission.

2nd Session Ministry Interns, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, July 2015

Besides Christian camps, VBS ministries are always super fun and exhausting, and I volunteered at Hulin Sisters' Music Camp in 2015, just the week before I went to Tennessee, too. There's plenty of room for flexibility!! But I think working with kids and being able to explain the Gospel in 5-year-old vocabulary is such an important thing to learn in life.

I had the yellow team (4-6 year olds) at HSM camp, July 2015
Photo Credit: Elizabeth R. 

17. Earn some money.

At home, at a job, online... Talk with your parents and see what they think about you earning some money for yourself. I've tried several different work-from-home things (teaching piano, freelance editing, selling scarves I knitted myself, and others), babysitting is pretty great, and my friend Mykaela enjoys her very flexible schedule as a substitute at the library. (Okay, I'll try to reference Mykaela less, now.)

18. Save some money.

Isn't it way to easy to just blow your money when you finally start getting some?! Shortly after I started babysitting regularly for our neighbors when I was about 15 or 16, I bought myself some cheap-y boots for $40. Yikes. Bad purchase, Kimberly. But I had wanted boots for sooo long, and I finally had the money, so I splurged. My point is: it's going to be easy to buy that stuff you've "always" wanted, when you do get some money in your pocket, but you can't. At least, you can't get all of it. Self-control. If it helps, figure a plan of some very specific thing or trip you want to save for.

19. Get involved in politics.

This could mean anything from helping in a campaign to presenting speeches to educating yourself and voting. It doesn't have to be difficult. But as a now-old-enough-to-vote American citizen (assuming you are?), you need to at least be reading and staying up on news a little bit. It's only your reasonable service. We can't even number exactly how many people have died to secure you this right. Check out my favorite political-type websites: One News Now, Americans for Prosperity, and Politico. If you really want to get hands-on and waist-deep in politics, Patriot Academy is an amazing program (or so say my friends who have been).

20. Fulfil a dream.

Maybe your dream was on this list? But maybe not. Some of my unfulfilled dreams include: being an actress in a stage production (probably of 'Seven Brides for Seven Brothers' or 'The Sound of Music'- please don't tell me how unreasonable this is; a girl is allowed to dream!), writing a book, entering something I made into a state fair competition (you know, like bread, canned goods, or something), trying snow skiing, and trying surfing, among others.

What are your dreams? What's that thing you've been putting off for adulthood? And why do you think adulthood is going to be less busy and more about your dreams than right now? Redeem the time!

What would you add to this list?

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  1. This is a really neat post! I'm graduating high school this year and I have been getting a bit stressed out about my next step... I've heard it said that Americans have made an idol out of education. I don't know how true that is,but there is a lot of pressure on teenagers to get a college degree,and perhaps we put that BA or whatever on a bit of a pedestal. As you mentioned, we are very formative and immature; we are easily influenced at this age,and it's rather ridiculous to expect that we will make the best decisions for our lives at this time. I like your suggestions! Helping out in various ministries and charities, saving money and learning new talents and languages are all great suggestions! The only thing I can add is to have fun with your family,help out at home,and grow closer to the Lord! :)

    1. Hi Jenny!

      I do agree that Americans have idolized education. Education is not something the Bible instructs us to strive after, so it can be confusing to find the happy median, if you will, of balancing a good education with not being obsessed with such pursuits. College will not be for everyone, but it can be a tool used for good and the Kingdom of God. It has to be a personal matter for everyone; not just "this is what society expects of me, so this is what I do".

      I agree with your additions, too! Yes! If anything you're doing (including working) is hindering you from growing closer to your family or the Lord, it is no good! Especially because I feel secure that God has me at home right now for His own glory and good reasons, I always think twice about any opportunities or commitments, and double-check that they won't interfere with any family plans or schedules. Even being that I know my mom works with the little kids in their school from around 9am-11am, I try to have nothing important or in town scheduled in that window, so I am available to help my mom if she needs me. But yes, those are excellent goals, on a more abstract and subjective level. :)

      Have a lovely day, Jenny!

  2. I like these kinds of posts... Will be sharing!

    1. Thank you so, so much for your support, Halee!!

  3. Awesome post! I definitely bothers me when people ask continually what I'm going to do with my life or where I'm attending college. When I respond with "Be a wife and mom, Lord Willing" they don't often see that as a "viable career choice". I also plan to do any college courses I take online :) Lots of people don't encourage that either, so thanks for being encouraging in that area!

    In Christ,

    1. I love your reply to people asking about your future! It took me way too long to figure out how to answer those kinds of inquiries, but that's probably because I was worried what people would think of me and my counter-cultural ideals. God has helped me grow so much in the area of knowing what I believe, knowing where I fit into His plan, and never being ashamed of either!

      Oh yeah, online classes really get a bad rap, but I think they're very smart! So much less distracting than being on a campus, too! But you never want to be in a position to need a degree, and not have one... So many aspects to consider, but I think you've got the right direction!

      Press on, Megan!! <3

    2. Exactly! My dad would like me to have a degree in something just in case there is a law passed that I cannot homeschool my children without one. I think the Lord is leading me towards something in the education field which will just be an extra little perk as a homeschool mom! :)

    3. Same here! I never wanted to do college work when I was younger, but my parents have been saying for as long as I can remember that at least a 2-year degree would be a good safety net, and would probably insure I can homeschool my future children.

      Oh, education! Neat! It seems like those are kind of hard to get online, but I wish you success! I am majoring in English for many reasons, but it's a perk that I can complete the degree 100% online, if I put in the work. :)

  4. This is a great list! I can't wait to finish school so I can focus on other important things in my life. It wasn't until a few years ago that I realized I didn't want to do 4 more years of school when I could be writing books or working as a nanny or something. So I might take a class here and there, but I'm not going to collage full time. – Abbie C.

    1. And there's nothing wrong with that choice! Nothing at all! The world might freak out a little when you tell them (one agonizing explanation at a time), but if you know you don't need a college education, why do you need the debt from one? So many better things to redeem the time with, surely!

      God bless, Abbie!!

  5. There are a lot of things you can do instead of college. Not every job requires a degree but today's society almost demands it for most jobs. College is a wonderful thing, even a liberal arts one, if going to school is something you'd need for your future.
    College isn't mentioned in the Bible because it didn't exist.

    1. Hey Lauren!

      You're totally right- there are a million options instead of college, but sometimes it seems like our creativity goes to put when we aren't doing what society tells us we should be doing. These are just creative suggestions, for those of us who finish high school, and suddenly find ourselves in the middle of the freeway with a stalled engine. I'm just trying to inspire my readers to keep moving, keep learning, and keep improving- even if there is no college involved.

      As you surely noticed, I said I am not against college, only the ungodly environments college campuses usually make for, and the pressure of the world that says all 18 year olds must be in college straightaway after high school. If you've been following along for any length of time, you might have picked up that I, actually, am a college student myself! (English major.) I just don't take classes on a campus, and I took a year break after HS.

      Thanks for commenting! Those are good, thought-provoking points!

  6. Looovvvvveeee this!! :) For me personally, I would include: host a fundraiser, volunteer, learn new instruments, begin teaching a monthly kids' group music lesson, and a few more things. I just began creating a bucket list of things I'd like to do before college/marriage :) Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Oooo! Good ideas! You'll have to share that bucket list with us sometime!


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