“Where do you want to go to college?” is a question so many high school students get asked. However, we don’t always realize the amount of pressure this places on high school students to go to college. Making the decision to go to college is a very stressful subject for many students. Although our SEL skills teach us how to manage that stress, sometimes it can still feel like an overwhelming pressure to attend college even if we are unsure about what we want to get out of that experience. As time goes on, the idea of what to do after high school continues to change. NPR notes in their article “How to bust the ‘big lie’ around college applications” that going to college and even the thought about applying for college is a privilege that not every student has. The article explains that college is a financial battle that some just can’t even afford to think about. However, this lack of privilege can cause even more stress on an individual as they try to figure out what their lives might look like if they do not go to college or if they do, how might they be able to pay for it or what degree can they get to pay for the high interest loans ignoring what career dreams they once had.
CNN’s reporters Ryan Roslansky and Byron Auguste note the importance of work places broadening their hiring process to include those without a college degree. Although they might be a little ahead of their time, they still make the important statement that just because one has a degree from a certain school does not make them more qualified than another college graduate. This goes hand-in-hand with the perspective that there are some skills that one cannot learn in a college classroom – such as strong work ethic or how to communicate with those without a similar degree or a degree at all. This is not to say that college is not important for certain jobs, but it is only as important as the student and employer sees it to be.
College is deeply ingrained in our society, but that should not mean that college is for everyone. This article by Forbes notes that there are many pros and cons to going to college – such as the financial costs of college compared to the degree one might earn. Knowing that there are pros and cons to college are an important factor in allowing our children to decide whether or not they attend a community college, university, trade school, or just jump into the workforce. Parents plus Kids notes the importance in letting our high school students make that choice themselves, without forcing a choice on them. I think many of us know what happens when someone forces us to do something – it makes us less motivated to complete the task. However, it is also really important to stray away from the old saying of “college just is not for everyone.” Forbes explains in their article that by saying college is not for everyone, it can cause premature doubts and opinions about who should or should not go to college. This simple statement might cause some self-doubt in a student who left college that they were not good enough or it might cause discouragement in a student who could not afford college.
Perhaps a four-year college does not seem like the right fit at the moment, or maybe it just seems too overwhelming to go to college, or maybe what your student wants to do as a career does not require a college degree – that is okay! This article by FamilyEducation discusses the many pathways in which students might take after graduating from high school. The article notes jumping right into the workforce, going to community college, attending a trade or vocational school, volunteering (if you have the monetary funds and support), or taking a gap year.
With all of the many pathways our students might choose to take we wanted to provide everyone with some information on them. Please see the below lists for information on these multiple pathways.
Option A: Joining the Workforce and/or taking a Gap Year
This is a great option for those who are not sure what they want to do with a college degree or in their future just yet. This is also a great option for those who want to save some money prior to attending college. For more information on this option take a look at the below links:
- Gap Year Association
- College Board: What is a Gap Year
- Should You Take a Gap Year? Pros and Cons
- On-the-Job Training vs. A College Education
- Comparing the Costs of College vs. Work After High School
Option B: Going to Community College
This is a great option for those who want to keep learning, but are not entirely sure what they want a four-year degree in. This is also a less expensive option where students can obtain a degree or certificate prior to entering the workforce or transferring to a four year college.
- Community College: You’ve Heard the Myths, Now Let’s Talk Benefits
- Why Starting At Community College Is Better (And Why It’s Not)
- 5 GOOD REASONS TO CHOOSE COMMUNITY COLLEGE
- 5 Reasons to Consider Community College
Option C: Going to a vocational, technical, or trade school
This is a great option for students who learn better with a hands-on approach. This option is also best for students who want to work in industries other than an office setting. This option can include nursing school, electrical or plumbing technicians, fashion designers, and much more.
- The Stigma of Choosing Trade School Over College
- Trade School vs College in 2022: Pros & Cons, and Job Opportunities
- Trade Schools Vs. Traditional College: What You Should Know
- Trade School vs. College: Which Should You Go?
We hope that all of this information helps you have a better conversation with your student about the best pathway for them after high school. Remember that just because they do not pick college, does not mean their opportunities will be limited.