The Gap Year(s): Why I’m Glad I Took Time Off From Higher Education

When I graduated from college, countless classmates were headed to grad school — M.Eds, MDs, MBAs, MAs, MDivs, you name it. Well-intentioned professors urged me to do the same. I wanted to be a people-pleaser (and certainly a professor-pleaser!) as always…but just couldn’t shake the feeling that for some reason I wasn’t ready yet.

Kate's pic_graduationEmbarrassed, I moved home to my parents’ house (and later to a house with a few friends my age), got a job, and settled in.

It’s been 2 years since I wore a cap and gown. And each year, especially in the springtime, Facebook fills up with giddy grad school acceptance posts. There’s pictures of college hoodies and white coat ceremonies, comments of new seasons and new opportunities.

First, I feel happy for them; I really do. Then, the social comparison sets in, and I feel jealous, less-accomplished, one-step-behind. And, finally, when I think about it? Grateful. Grateful for the time I’ve had to live and work and learn some things like this:

  1. Being comfortable working with people significantly older than myself. In college, I worked, lived, and ate almost entirely with people approximately my age. But that’s not how most of the world operates. Now, I love sharing ideas and projects and meals with people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, and on upwards.
  2. Keeping up with cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. In college, I had just half a dorm room to take care of and a meal plan to nourish me. Again, that’s not how most of the world operates. But now that I’ve taken the time to practice, I’m grateful to be able to do these “adult” things at least semi-decently.
  3. Writing not only essays but cover letters, resumes, professional emails, newsletters, thank you letters, grants, and the list goes on. I know some of these things were taught at my university’s Career Center. And probably in the Business school. But nothing beats experience (especially since, as an English major, most of my prior experience was with William Wordsworth and T.S. Eliot). Now, I love being able to confidently tell potential employers that, whatever type of writing they need done, I can probably figure it out.
  4. Having fun. Yes, it may be backwards, but I’m a nerd and have learned how to have fun more after college than during it. In college, if a friend asked me to go on a walk just for fun, I’d nervously eye my to-do list and likely say no. Now, when a housemate asks me to sit on the porch and do nothing with her — nothing but sip our tea and talk and watch the sunset — I still have the to-do list but more likely say, “sure.” I love that doing nothing, which used to elicit a resounding “why would I do that?!” now elicits a resounding “sure, why not?!” This strikes me now as socially, spiritually, mentally, and physically healthy.
  5. Reading and writing for fun. By the end of college, poetry had lost its pizzazz and novels no longer seemed like a novel idea. They were assigned, analyzed, and amounted to a lot of work. Had I started grad school immediately, my reading and writing would have been burdensome from the get-go, which could easily have taken a toll on both my schoolwork and my mental health. Now, I love reading and writing more than ever.
  6. Focusing on what I should do and not being as distracted by what I could do. In college, I was a young arts & humanities major interested in lots of things. Ask me what I wanted to do professionally, and the answer got more and more muddled by the month. But, give me a job to do for a while, and the answers begin to settle. I’ve asked myself questions like “What is it that you can’t help but do? What is it you daydream about doing? What exactly could you see working on in-depth for a long while?” And I love that the answers have gotten clearer.

I’m sure this isn’t everyone’s experience of college and life-after-college. Plenty of people have practical experiences, fun, focus, and their own cooking and cleaning during college. And plenty of people struggle after college. But this has been my experience.

If you’re thinking about taking time off from higher education, I’d so strongly encourage you to do it. I never thought I’d say this but: I’m grateful I’ve done it.

This post originally appeared on

View More: Powers is Blog Developer at EA Resources. A writer and seminary student at Duke Divinity School, Julia enjoys contributing an emerging adult voice to EA Resources and blogging at her own site

From Faith & Leadership — Teen’s online church draws young people from around the world

By Joely Johnson Mork, freelance writer and contributor at Faith & Leadership, a publication of Duke Divinity School

“Like many teenagers, Daniel Herron, 16, of Tacoma, Washington, has a busy life. He’s a member of the Sea Scouts, the nautical branch of the Boy Scouts of America. He serves on the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Board, helping to award thousands of dollars to local organizations. He’s active in his high school’s Bible study group.

And he’s also the founder and pastor of an online church that has attracted more than 4,500 members. Not a “pretend” or “make-believe” church, but a real — albeit virtual — church where teenagers from across the country and around the world gather to worship, pray and connect with one another.

Known as The Robloxian Christians, or TRC, this nontraditional congregation has important lessons for those who lead traditional churches and church institutions, theologians and youth ministers say.”

Click here for full article — it’s worth the read!

Included are a few reflection questions regarding the nature of an online church, definitions of church, the needs of young people, and the abilities of young people:

  • What does The Robloxian Christians tell us about the capacity of young people for imaginative leadership in the church?
  • What spiritual and faith formation needs of young people is TRC meeting that “real world” churches are not?
  • How do “bricks and mortar” church experiences inform the practices of The Robloxian Christians? Why are “brick and mortar” churches still an important part of Daniel and other members’ lives?
  • Is TRC a “real” church? What makes a church “real”? What are the essentials of church?
  • Are the children and youth in your church agents of ministry, or objects of ministry? What is the difference?
  • How can your church provide a safe space for unchurched people to ask questions and have dialogue?

Let us know what you think!

Glorifying God as a Student – By Amanda Babcock

As students head back to school and we pray for emerging adults particularly during their #first2weeks on college campuses, it can be helpful to remember that being a student is so much more than learning to read and write, decipher and discuss, calculate or conjugate. Being a student involves learning to glorify God.

Emerging adult Amanda Babcock has written a reflection on how to glorify God as a student.

“There are so many days that I barely even have time to eat or sleep. Being a college student is a full-time job. And then everyone expects you to also have a job to afford living, be involved, sleep, eat, and exercise. It’s basically an impossible task. I’ve been prone to complain about how much work I have, or how stressed I am, or how overwhelmed I am. But the last few days, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I can use everything I do to glorify God.

In fact, it’s pretty simple. I realized that putting my best foot forward in all I do brings glory to God.

Click here for full article on using our gifts and talents, classes and callings, to glorify God.


Amanda BabcockAmanda Noelle Babcock is a student at Bethel University studying Environmental Science in hopes of doing Environmental Restoration with missions. She loves the outdoors, being Minnesotan, and everything about camp – including flannels, chacos, and sharing the gospel. To read more by Amanda, check out her blog.

3 Tips for Finding Community

Finding community can be just as arduous a journey as finding Nemo. Especially if you forget people’s names like Dory or cling to your comfort zone like Marlin. Movie metaphors aside, finding community when you’re in a new place requires genuine commitment to the journey.

Especially as an introvert, when I first visit a new church, organization, or other community, I want nothing more than to hide in the back. But lately—much to my surprise—God’s drawn me deeply into community nonetheless. When I reflect on how in the world this has happened, I realize my foray into fellowship came about in roughly three stages.

1. Show up.

Erin S. Lane, author of Lessons in Belonging from a Church-Going Commitment Phobe, writes that “finding a place to belong seems to depend more on my ability to show up—often and fully—than it does on what happens when I get there. That stuff is important, but that stuff I can’t control.”

Showing up sounds simple—and it is. But it’s also powerful. Choose a community that you could see possibly being part of, and then commit to showing up three-to-four weeks in a row. Through faithful attendance, people will begin to recognize you and you’ll begin to recognize them. People will start to consider you part of the community simply because you’re always there. And maybe you’ll start to consider yourself part of the community too.

2. Speak up.

Check the community’s website or Facebook page if they have one, and then email a pastor, small group leader, or other community leader. Chances are they don’t bite. On the contrary, they’d likely love to grab a bite to eat or cup of coffee with you and discuss how you might get plugged into the community.

In addition, if there’s a question asked in Sunday school, speak up and answer it. If there’s a need for volunteers at the community’s upcoming bake sale, speak up and do it. If there’s a group of people you even somewhat know discussing going to lunch after the meeting, speak up and ask if you could join them. This doesn’t have to involve being in the spotlight at all; it could look like tapping someone on the shoulder and speaking up in a one-on-one or small group context.

3. Keep it up.

After a few months of showing up and speaking up in a recent community, I drove home from a Wednesday night social for the umpteenth time thinking in frustration: “They still don’t know me. Not really.” It’s tempting to compare a current, in-progress community to the remembered intimacy of a past community. But these things take time.

At that few-months mark, a dear friend from college reminded me: “Remember how we were after a few months of friendship? I wouldn’t even let you share my French fries!” (“You’re also a huge germophobe,” I reminded her.)

“Keep it up,” she said. “Keep it up.”

And the Bible says something similar: “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24-25).

For more thoughts on finding community, check out these books on the subject:

 This post originally appeared on

View More: Powers is Blog Developer at EA Resources. A writer and seminary student at Duke Divinity School, Julia enjoys contributing an emerging adult voice to EA Resources and blogging at her own site

5 Things I’m Reminding My Anxious Mind This School Year

I graduated college three years ago, having received a bachelor’s degree, a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder, a couple rounds of counseling, and some initial practice at stress management. Now, as a slightly more mature yet still meandering 20-something, I am excitedly and anxiously returning to school for a master’s degree — far away from home, no less. During this season of transitions for so many young people, I am reminding my mind of the unique stresses — and unique resources — that exist for students with reminders like this:


1. Don’t leave your coping strategies at home. Identify maybe two to three coping strategies that have worked for you already — strategies you may have practiced over the summer — and keep them going as much as possible as you start school. Continuing some of your routines can be an absolute anchor for the soul. For me, this might look like prayer in the morning, deep breaths in the afternoon when my day is getting overwhelming, and a practice of gratitude around bedtime. I’d like to include going for a run, but realistically I have a love/hate relationship with exercise (which tends toward more “hate” than “love”)! For you, this can and should look like whatever simple, manageable practices work for you.

2. Investigate options for mental health care even before you arrive on campus. Check the resources provided by your school’s counseling center, health center and dean’s office. Sometimes schools also have student-run organizations like Active Minds and TWLOHA UChapters. If you think on-campus resources may not be the best fit for you, try asking for referrals and perusing Psychology Today’s therapist directory (which also includes listings of psychiatrists, support groups, and treatment facilities).

3. Don’t hide. When I feel anxious, all I want to do is curl up in bed in the fetal position — especially if I’m in a new place where I’m not sure who to reach out to for help. Curling up in bed is all right sometimes, but don’t let that be your only response to anxiety. Balance out that hour in isolation with an hour in counseling. Call up a friend. If you live in a dorm, knock on your resident assistant’s door. I promise there are good, good people around you willing to help, even if you don’t yet know who they are.

4. Try not to give in to “stress pressure.” This is like peer pressure, but it’s the particular pressure that can happen in school settings which pressures students to act stressed. Stress pressure suggests that when someone asks “Hey, how are you?” it’s somehow “cool” to say “I’m tired” or “I’m busy.” It’s somehow cool to pull all-nighters, chug coffee or energy drinks, and compare how many assignments you have due this week. But here’s what I’m reminding my anxious mind: It’s 100 percent cool to sleep, sip tea or water, and do your school work to the best of your ability without comparing it to others.

5. Practice self-acceptance. This might mean acceptance of getting an occasional B or C or F on a test. This might mean acceptance of (and even asking for) an extension on an assignment; professors will often outline policies for “grace days” on their course syllabi and review said policies on the first day of class, so pay attention to this and don’t be ashamed to use it. Above all, this means acceptance of who you are — the strong, smart, capable yet not-capable-of-everything human that you are.

I wonder: What would you put on this list? If you are a student (or work with students), what do you need to remind your anxious mind? Give yourself these reminders early and often, giving yourself grace now and throughout the school year.

This post originally appeared on

View More: Powers is Blog Developer at EA Resources. A writer and seminary student at Duke Divinity School, Julia enjoys contributing an emerging adult voice to EA Resources and blogging at her own site