Written by: McKinley Kasberg

The transition from high school to college is terrifying. I remember having knots in my stomach for what seemed to be months on end during my senior year of high school. I simply was not ready to go to college, but I knew I wanted to leave my hometown, see more of the world, and form my worldview away from the safety of home. In December of 2017, I decided to take a gap year. I know this is not a traditional choice after high school, but it was one of the best decisions I have ever made!

The Gap Year I decided to attend is called Link Year. It is located in Branson, Missouri and is a part of Kanakuk. The program seeks to help high school graduates affirm their worldview, grow in community, serve others, and learn apologetics. Link Year seeks to bring its students closer to the Lord through classes, mentorship, community service, and travel. Every weekday we spent about three to four hours listening to speakers from all around the country about topics such as evangelism, depression and anxiety, missions, goal setting, and time management. We spent time every week learning about apologetics, learning how to answer questions about the Bible by citing specific verses to defend our positions, and talking about theological topics in small groups. I was given an awesome mentor and Bible study leader at the beginning of Link Year as well as a small group of girls. We met on Monday mornings and shared life together. It was truly one of the greatest blessings. Link Year was always a blast whether we were playing board games in the game room or cleaning the kitchen after dinner. The community I received there was such a HUGE blessing.

Beyond the benefits Link Year had to offer, I chose to go there because I knew I needed time to prioritize my relationship with the Lord before going to college. My senior year of high school was difficult and left me spiritually struggling. I needed to leave the distractions of my past behind to truly learn what the gospel is and how Jesus can truly change those who seek him. God was faithful to put people in my life who held me accountable, called out sin they saw in me, and encouraged me when I needed it. The faithfulness of my roommates, friends, and mentors truly changed my life, allowing me to process hurt and heartache from my past and learn to trust in God as the ultimate source of my joy and strength.

I would be lying if I did not mention my interest was VERY peaked when I found out Link Year does international trips! In the month of February, I went with about 30 other students and staff members to Ireland. We visited all over the country. Some of my top favorite places were Tollymore Forest, St. Saul’s church, and pretty much anywhere in Belfast. I loved the hikes we took, the churches we saw, and the many, many castles we got to visit. I also took a four day trip to Paris with some friends and visited iconic places such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. It was such a fun time that brought me closer to the community at Link Year and showed me how big God’s Earth truly is.

I am so glad I took a gap year. I learned who I truly am - a child of God. I learned to love scripture unlike ever before. I made lifelong friends. Taking time to focus on the eternal truths rather than fleeting academic success right after high school changed my perspective on college. I am confident enough to be bold in my faith and have learned to prioritize time with the Lord over all else. Sometimes the less traditional choice is the right one, and I am thankful for taking the road less traveled by taking a gap year.

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