In 2018, some 3.6 million students received high school diplomas (National Center for Education Statistics). So, now what? In some families, going directly to college is an expectation loaded with pressure. In other families, advanced education isn’t an option at all. Regardless, a four-year degree is no longer an automatic ticket to a prosperous, successful life. Too often the sheepskin comes attached to crushing debt and an uncertain career path.
Earning a bachelor’s degree is a noteworthy achievement and a powerful life tool. Its value cannot be overstated. But college may not always be the best path at 18. The wisest choice may mean taking an alternate route right after high school. This actually increases your young adult’s options over the long haul. Here are six reasons college might not be the right college choice for your child.
1. There are thousands of skilled tech jobs going begging
The Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Labor Department confirm this phenomenon. Reporting in news outlets – including Forbes, NPR, CNN, Fox, and the New York Times – agrees. Tech industry, electrical, metalworking, plumbing, and other trades all face labor shortages. (see Forbes:13 High-Paying Tech Careers You Can Get Without a College Degree) Schools that offer training in specific career fields cost far less, are designed to work with enrollees work schedules, offer more on-the-job training, typically feed directly into the job market, and place a high percentage of graduates in full-time jobs.
2. Horrendous debt is not an attractive graduation gift
College grads often carry tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Advanced degree debt quickly climbs into three figures. Young people feel they will never escape the pressure.
3. A gap year (or two) may be the best college prep they can do
There are many reasons to wait a year or two: saving money, travel, volunteer work, military service, taking a breather after 13 years in a classroom, or a recharge on motivation. Students who take freshmen year in their early twenties tend to have a clearer sense of direction, better focus, and more motivation.
4. Maybe they should wait until they can pay for it?
College may not always be the best path at 18. The wisest choice may mean taking an alternate route right after high school.College choice for some young people means waiting to pay their own way. These students fail fewer classes, tend to be more responsible, graduate with less debt, and tailor their classes to the job market.
5. College graduation does not guarantee a good job
An increasing number of college students move right back in with their parents after four years of school. The combination of debt and no clear career path leads to jobs paying less than livable wages. If this is the future you see then consider options 1-4 above!