Dear Career Coach,
I am a 17-year old senior at a local high school in Chesterfield County. Unlike my peers, I do not want to go to college, at least not right now. I am not sure what I want to major in and the costs of financing a college education are major concerns for me. I was thinking instead of looking at training schools where I could take up a trade or vocation. Do you have any suggestions on where to find these types of programs? What are alternative options for students in high school that don’t want the bill of attending a four-year college right now?
Desperately Seeking College Alternatives
You are not alone in your interest to look at other alternatives to college. Research says that 40 percent of graduating seniors will not attend college directly out of high school. These students will try other options – going straight into the workforce, volunteering or working in condensed and shorter vocational education programs. There are a lot of options for students who feel like they are not ready for college.
One of the best websites to review in regards to your options is www.leapnow.org. Here you can review work, study and travel abroad programs that may point you in the direction to identify your true calling in a career field. There are also apprenticeship and career programs that are very experiential and provide the opportunity to immediate hands-on experience. This way you can determine very early if the career track is a good fit for your strengths and interests.
Finally, another valuable experience could be in serving and giving back. AmeriCorps is a national program which offers 17-24 year-olds the chance to make a difference through a national network of hundreds of programs throughout the U.S. It also might be worthwhile to explore military options.
Like choosing a college, it’s not an easy decision. But give yourself some slack, start doing some research and be purposeful in choosing an alternative that serves not only your soul, but your dreams. When are you going to get the opportunity to travel and discover what you want to be when you grow up? Not very often; so take advantage of this time.