When my son was a high school senior he had no idea what he wanted to do after graduation. Since he was an average student, he felt college was not in the cards. Being involved in Junior ROTC throughout high school, he opted for the military instead of college. When he left for boot camp after graduation he was confident he had made the right decision.
My daughter on the other hand, knew she wanted to go to college and where she wanted to go. When she graduated, she left for college content she had made the right decision.
My children each chose a different path, but the right one.
I’m glad I let them decide for themselves and didn’t push them into a singular direction because it was the norm. It’s important you keep an open mind, offer options, and allow your children to explore the many paths after graduation.
For students who desire discipline and a strong purpose, the military offers that and more. Not only are you trained for a career that is often transferrable to the civilian marketplace, but those who serve have the option of using the Montgomery G.I. Bill to pay for their college education. There are many branches of service offering various skills and opportunities. Another option, would be to attend a military college and receive an officer’s commission after graduation in the service branch of your choice.
Community college is an excellent way to study the basics and prepare for the more fundamental courses once your student chooses a major or decides what to study. Students can transfer to a four-year college to receive their bachelor’s degrees or use the two years to complete an associate’s degree in specific field of study. Not only does community college allow your student to study the basics, but you will save money because the credits cost significantly less than at a four-year college.
Traditional four-year College
If your student is motivated, focused and sure he wants to attend a four-year college, you have your work cut out for you. It will require planning, preparation, and a considerable amount of your time, but this path can provide your student with an education that leads toward a future career after graduation.
Technical college or trade school
Students who decide to go down this path will be studying and preparing for a specific career. Technical schools and colleges prepare students to enter the workforce with a skill once their education is complete. These colleges are geared toward providing an education along with training in a specific career that could include health care, mechanics, or computing.
Many parents fear the gap year, believing their student won’t want to go to college afterwards. They see it as a delay tactic to college and often disregard the option. But most gap year students do attend college and do well because they are focused and the gap year gives them real world experience.
There are many gap year programs designed for students to work and even study abroad at the same time. Some are volunteer programs, some are work programs, and others are simply designed for travel and cultural experiences. Other students opt to take a gap year and work to save money for college. They also often use this year to explore career options by working at internships or working with a mentor in a career that interests them.
No matter which path your student chooses, explore all the options in each and support them in any choice they make. Your goal as a parent is to help them discover the path that suits them best.