When College Gets in the Way: An Alternate Approach

In about six hours, my family will grow by one.

“It’s a boy!”

As I write this, my husband, Brian, is driving home to Detroit, from North Carolina, with the newest member of our family…my 20 year-old cousin, Kevin.

student gap year

Brian and Kevin, (my husband and cousin) “texted” this picture to me just a short while ago. They are driving from Charlotte, NC to Detroit as I write. Kevin will be living with us and doing an internship with SOAR.

Kevin will be doing an internship with SOAR® and getting a heavy-duty course in study skills.  He is an energetic, athletic, and very kind young man…who has always found school to be a massive drain on his energy and confidence.

He represents many bright students whose God-given talents live outside of the confines of the academic world.

Over the holidays, Brian, our two kids, and I flew to Charlotte, NC to visit a whole crew of cousins. While there, Kevin and I struck up a conversation about music (his great passion) and entrepreneurship. He was very eager to learn anything he could learn about running a business.

Kevin is smart enough to know that he will likely have to create his own living to feed himself –and his passion. I could sense in him a certain type of energy I’ve always had; a drive that pushed me my whole life…right into what I’m doing now with SOAR®.  I’m not trying to be a poet, but that same drive is alive inside of Kevin!

But then, the conversation turned towards school and his passion and energy died.  It was like someone pulled the plug on Kevin, zapping his soul.  He explained that was in the midst of transitioning to a different school, beginning in January.  The hope was that a new environment would help him figure out what he wanted to do and how he could be successful doing it.


For a few days, that conversation weighed heavy on my mind.  With the advantage of hind-sight I knew a new school was not going to satisfy Kevin’s search.  I was also frustrated that the pressures of college meant he was stuck trudging through a couple more years of misery in school.  Only then, could he begin to learn what he really wanted to learn.  (Steve Jobs shared this exact frustration in a famous commencement address to Stanford graduates.)

In other words, Kevin had to put off any interests for his future to prepare for his future.  That’s a recipe for a miserable future!

Especially when I know that my home and business would be an ideal laboratory for Kevin to explore his entrepreneurial interests.  (That and, um…well, I think we can coach him on a few skills to manage school with more success, too!)

Driving home from the airport a few days later, I suddenly asked Brian, “What would you think about inviting Kevin to live with us for a semester?”

Before I could finish the question, Brian responded, “Oh yeah! Definitely!”  I turned to ask the kids if they would be willing to share a room to make space for Kevin.  They were instantly excited over the idea of getting a big brother!  (They’ve been helping me get Kevin’s room ready all weekend.  Eight year-old Mark, in particular, is watching out for Kevin and ensuring that all signs of the color pink have been removed from his sister’s room.)

Obviously, Kevin accepted our invitation.

The Gap Year

In recent years, the concept of a “Gap Year” has been receiving more attention.  A gap year typically follows high school graduation; it gives students an opportunity to get a break from school and explore the real world.  It is a structured year, with a specific plan.  The goal is for students to get some experience to help them make more informed decisions about their future career, work environment, and of course, field of study for when they return to school.

Everyone should do a Gap Year!  The notion that 18 year-olds should be able to make an informed decision about their future career coming right out of high school is absurd.  They need real-world experience to gain more perspective.

This perspective is exactly what Kevin needs.  He has a thirst for a specific type of knowledge.  Brian and I happen to have access to what he wants…and access to what he needs.

So, Kevin will begin a “Gap Semester” with us.  The first item on the agenda…three days with my mastermind group of entrepreneurs where each person gets 90 minutes in the “hot seat.”  We share details about our businesses, including celebrations and challenges.  We then brain-storms ideas and solutions for each other.  It’s a fascinating glimpse into 20 different businesses and a brain-swelling experience!  It’s total immersion into a world of endless creativity and possibility; Kevin’s never seen anything like it…and I’m totally jazzed to share it with him!

Next week…we will crack open some of his old textbooks and learn how to read them…quickly and painlessly.  My prediction for Kevin by December, 2013: One college semester under his belt with a solid 3.0 or better…and a renewed sense of motivation and confidence for his future.

And, it all begins in…four-and-a-half hours.  Welcome, Kevin!

For more information about the SOAR® curriculum, please click here.

-Susan Kruger


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