Whether it’s the rising costs, uncertainty about a career course or many other reasons in between, plenty of teens doesn’t go to college. Fortunately, in this day and age, there are more options than ever for them to find their own path in the world without going to college. And if your high junior or senior isn’t planning to attend college, consider some of these alternatives instead.
Enter The Job Market
Going to college may provide a four-year degree, but almost every college graduate will lack on-the-job experience. And the advantage of taking a job – any job – straight out of high school is that one can get on-the-job experience immediately. Plus, there’s never been a better time to enter the job market and your teen can start saving money and enjoy perks like 401k and health insurance plans. Some employers may even help pay for college if your teen decides to attend later on.
Attend Trade School or Vocational School
If your teen is interested in a specific skill, such as welding, plumbing, electrician, practical nurse, emergency medical services, and many more, a trade school or vocational school offers a fast, low cost opportunity to quickly learn and master a skill. Learning an in-demand skill or trade now can put a teen in the job market faster than four years of college, and that job will never be outsourced or automated. It can even provide the skills to start their own business down the line.
Join The Military
Enlisting in a branch of the military will allow your teen to choose their own training path, while immediately providing a paycheck, health care benefits, support, and structure. Plus a career in the military can provide an opportunity for early retirement, the chance to apply one’s military skills in a private sector job later on, and the opportunity to earn lifelong veteran’s benefits.
Become A Business Owner
If your teen has a particular passion or hobby, see if they can turn that passion into a business opportunity. As the pandemic showed, a successful business can even exist online without the need for a retail front or office location. Plus, given all the tools available to entrepreneurs today, it’s never been easier to be self-employed.
Try A School/Work Hybrid Path
If your teen isn’t sure about college, they can still enter the job market now and take some college courses concurrently, either online or at a local community college. Doing so provides the best of both worlds, as your teen can gain real-world, on-the-job training and still start earning college credit while they figure out the best path forward. Plus, online or community college options are usually less expensive, so your teen can also knock out basic college courses and save money at the same time.
If your teen is unsure about their career path, encourage them to volunteer to learn new skills, network, establish business contacts, and maybe even discover a career path that interests them. Plus, the volunteer hours they put in now will look great on any college application, job application, or résumé later on.
Take A Gap Year
No law says your teen has to begin college immediately upon high school graduation. If none of the options above appeals to your teen, and you have the means to support them, encourage them to take a gap year to figure out what to do with their lives. A gap year can give your teen more time to figure out what to do with their lives and more time to mature and, if it’s an option, more time to save for college.
If your teen, doesn’t want to go to college, there are plenty of other paths to pursue. Remember that they have plenty of options and plenty of time to decide the path their life will take. And, if the path your teen does choose isn’t what you hoped for them, just remember they’re now old enough to make their own choices. Let them choose, but don’t stop providing love, support, and the benefits of your own life and work experiences.