Life After High School: Top 10 Alternatives to College - FamilyEducation

Life After High School: Top 10 Alternatives to College

Check out these alternatives to college, and help your teen make a decision that is right for him.

Attending college after high school isn't for everyone. Some teens choose to take a year or two off before continuing their education, while others jump right into the workforce. If your teen is looking to explore his options, check out these alternatives and help him make a decision that is right for him.

Get a Job

woman at desk

The responsibility of holding down a full-time job is a good way for your high school grad to transition into adulthood, not to mention it's a financial necessity. However, your teen will want to gear her job search towards a job that offers career growth, as opposed to a job that normally hires teen workers on a temporary basis.
In addition, she should look in an industry that interests her and a company for which she can see herself working in the future, not just for the time-being. The opportunity to build a career off an entry-level job is there, if she is willing to work for it and stick it out.

Start a Business

discussing business plans

Has your teen always been an entrepreneur? Especially in this Internet age, there are many business opportunities for your teen to start working for himself — the trick is finding his niche and pursuing it.
Your teen can start by listing his strengths and interests, and finding potential industries that would put them to good use. And remember, even if his first venture fails, it will give him valuable experience and insight for his next.

Travel Abroad

travelling to Paris

If your teen has the travel bug, taking a year off to travel to a foreign country can open her eyes to new cultures and experiences. Funding is likely an obvious issue. If your teen doesn't have the bank account to match her ambition, there are options that may support her adventure. She can look into international community service, or employment opportunities such as on a cruise ship or as an au pair.
For more information on community service, visit the American Field Force's website.

Serve in the Military

military service

Joining the military after high school can offer a host of benefits. Your teen will have the chance to serve his country, and the military offers career opportunities in the service and the chance to earn or save money to further his education, if he chooses to do so.
For more information on military opportunities, visit the United States Army's website.

Learn a Trade

carpentry trade

If learning in the classroom isn't for your teen, learning on-the-job is a great alternative. Getting involved in a trade is a great way for him to gain valuable experience for his career.
Trades are usually completely skill-based, so the only way to learn is to get hands-on experience. Your teen should look for a job or apprenticeship that is geared towards his area of interest, and can help him towards earning any certificates or licenses that may be needed to advance his career. Some examples of trades include carpentry, technology, cosmetology, and machining.

Be an Intern or Apprentice

groups of interns

Being an intern or an apprentice gives your teen the opportunity to "test drive" a career before making a commitment. While many internships and apprenticeships are unpaid, they provide valuable experience in the work force, and may give your child the push he needs to excel in his area of choice.
Additionally, internships and apprenticeships only focus on what applies to the field, making this a good choice for a teen that might not have been fond of the "general studies" aspect of high school.

Volunteer

volunteers

Volunteering is a great way for your child to learn more about herself and the direction she wants her life to take. She can volunteer locally, or get involved in a national program that gives her a chance to travel the country. Volunteering can help your child learn new skills, make connections, and focus her energy on a cause that interests her.
AmeriCorp is a national program that allows over 75,000 individuals to volunteer each year. To learn more about their program and how to apply, visit their website at http://www.americorps.gov/. Additionally, the Peace Corps offers great volunteering opportunities as well. For more information, visit the Peace Corps website.

Take Adult Education Classes

adult education class

Adult education classes are a great way to sample college life without going full-time. It will give your teen the opportunity to take various classes and decide what direction she wants to go before committing to a major or degree program. Start by researching community colleges in your area to find one that offers classes that appeal to your teen.

Earn a Vocational or Career Training Certificate

confident nurses

Not all careers require a four-year degree from a university — many professions place more value in an industry certification and workplace experience. Positions such as information technology experts, dental hygienists, radiology technicians, and medical transcriptionists often require a certification that takes much less time to earn than a bachelor's degree. Your teen can research areas that interest her and find out if a certificate program is right for her.

Turn a Hobby Into a Moneymaker

playing piano

If your teen has a special talent or hobby, perhaps she can turn it into a career. With enough passion and drive, a hobby such as painting, music, or baking could become a viable moneymaker. If your child is able to do what she loves, and make a living at it, she'll never feel like she's worked a day in her life.