College May Not Be Your Child’s Path

For centuries kids have been leaving the nest to go off to college in pursuit of a career of their own.

The idea was to get an education that would give you esteem in the community and afford you the luxury of being able to provide for your family.

In modern society, such luxuries are achieved in many different ways, urging young adults to consider options beyond traditional higher education.

Being a student of Advanced Placement classes and a leader in his high school marching band’s drum line, Brendan Adair had everything in line for a pristine college application.

But that wasn’t the route Adair had in mind. Instead, after high school he said goodbye to his Texas home, mom, and little sisters for nine weeks of basic combat training.

Adair enlisted for four years in the United States Army to serve his country, and his mother couldn’t be prouder.

Today Parents reports on Adair’s mom, Katie Meek’s response to her son’s life choice:

“I worry about his safety, obviously, but I’m so proud of him for following through and finally making some goals and trying to better himself.”

Brendan Adair is a prime example of high school graduates pursuing a career outside of attending a college or university.

Schools are beginning to recognize that many students are not going straight to college, and they want to offer ways to help these young people succeed.

Henrico County, Virginia public schools have begun scheduling “career and technical letter-of-intent” signing days, according to Today, for students who plan on going straight into the workforce or to a trade school.

Mac Beaton, director of Henrico County’s Certified and Technical Education program, wants to emphasize with these signing days that they value the student’s post-graduation choices, he told Today Parents, even if it doesn’t involve going straight to college.

A public high school in New Jersey, Becton Regional, holds military signing days for the same reason.

Becton Regional High School senior Sebastian Cardona took advantage of the signing day and joined the U.S. Army.

He told reporter Nicholas Katzban from the North Jersey Record why he thought having options outside of college are important for teenagers leaving high school:

Going straight from high school into college is usually something you do just to have something to do. When you graduate high school, you don’t know what will help you in the future. You’re basically spending money to learn things for a career you might not follow. In the Army, they show you what you can do with yourself.”

Cardona may be on to something here. Texas A&M University’s student body has been growing steadily since 2014, according to Hechinger Report, but 55% of those students never come back for a second year.

“I know of people who have left because they didn’t want to be in college,” said student Amber Spence, who earned her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University, and is now a graduate student.

Spence reveals that many students attended the university because “Their parents made them go,”which had students lacking in their drive to succeed academically.

Does this mean that we shouldn’t encourage our children to attend college after they graduate from high school?

No way!

It is advantageous to mention that a study from Georgetown University found that, “on average, college graduates earn $1 million more in earnings over their lifetime,” as reported by Market Watch.

In addition to that substantial earning difference, Pew Research Center found that “the median yearly income gap between high school and college graduates is around $17,500.”

Receiving a college degree is not just all about the money either.

Doctor Oz pointed out that a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Center for Health Statistics showed that those with at least a bachelor’s degree live nearly 9 years longer than those who opt out of higher education.

Parents should be open to the possibility that college may not be the optimal route for their children, but should encourage their children to explore it as a legitimate means to a more secure and happy future.

Some of the most popular alternatives to college, as reported by Career Builder, are to:

  • Start a business. …
  • Attend community college. …
  • Enroll in technical college. …
  • Try an apprenticeship or fellowship. …
  • Join the military. …
  • Volunteer. …
  • Apply for RightSkill. …
  • Consider a gap year.

Your child’s future doesn’t have to be set in stone the minute they are handed that hard-earned high school diploma, but going over options based on their interests and goals is smart planning.

If there aren’t any goals on hand, and they think they are going to couch surf for an indefinite amount of time while waiting for opportunity to fall into their laps, it may be time for a tough love conversation about expectations and boundaries.

Whatever is done, make sure it is done with a mutual respect and love.

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