Parenting is a challenge as any parent will tell you. Education is one of the parenting issues that consume a large portion of parental thought life. Once parents have gotten their child through elementary, middle and high school, what do they do about college?
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We will explore some alternatives to higher education.
Parents are concerned about the high cost of college, the pressure to fit in and conform, and making it through to graduation.
Interestingly, parents have held to the idea that the traditional four-year college is the only path after high school. There are some alternatives to higher education that parents should consider.
Alternatives to Higher Education and College Debt
Many schools offer some level of scholarship or grants to students. This is helpful to a point. Grants and scholarships do not need to be paid back. However, students find that there is still a gap in tuition they are responsible for.
If three-quarters of the bill is covered by grants and scholarship that leaves one-quarter of the cost for the family to come up with. If that is $25,000, that amount is multiplied by four in order to get to graduation. For most students that means school loans that will follow the student for several years after graduation.
I am not saying the students and families should not pay for education. It is reasonable to pay for your education. Parents need to consider how much college costs and what the expected return on that investment will be.
The cost of college is increasing at a rate that is alarming and debilitating. You and your student need to look closely at the academic major of interest. Your student may not need to go the traditional route to work in their field of choice. Steer clear of majors that do not lead to being employed after graduation. In other words, if the major being considered sounds like “Underwater Basket Weaving,” run with all your might in the other direction.
The Burden of Debt
Debt looms heavy over the heads of young people long after they have left the halls of higher learning.
In addition, many students that enter college with the intention of earning a four-year degree, do not graduate. The college may not be a good fit for the student or traumatic events can cut a college career short.
Tragically, young adults are left to pay off a debt that represents time spent on the college campus but no diploma. Click To Tweet Without the diploma, their chances of landing a higher paying job can seem slim.
The future looks very bleak for these students. That’s a terrible way to begin life as an adult. Debt hinders these young adults’ chance of having a disposable income to purchase a car or home. The pattern is a cruel one and needs to be changed.
Alternatives to Higher Education and Pressures of College Life
Furthermore, students face pressures that lead to poor decisions that impact the rest of their lives.
Students will be challenged on many different fronts:
- time management
- drug and alcohol experimentation and use
- premarital sex
- situations that challenge long-held values
Parents send their children off to college with the hopes that their child will hold onto the values instilled in them but temptations often overpower solid foundations.
The cyber world provides an opportunity for young adults to dive into a dark and dangerous world. The hope is that students will exercise good judgment in this area. Parents, stay connected with your children. The cyber world can be a place of temptation and danger for your young person. Keep the lines of communication open.
Alternatives to Higher Education
Hopefully, these alternatives to higher education will give you a place to start looking for different paths to post-secondary education.
Think about what the end game is. Young adults need to be independent thinkers. They need to be able to take care of themselves once they leave school. Young people should be able to use their gifts and talents in their chosen career.
I think about Charlotte Mason’s approach to education. She encouraged teachers to include teaching a practical craft that students could then use as a possible means of earning money. This was not the type of craft that you stick on the refrigerator door just to be admired. These crafts had an actual function and use.
STEM careers or medical licenses require the traditional college path. Many careers, however, do not need a traditional college degree.
Start a Business
In the age of the internet, the possibility of starting an online business is a viable alternative to higher education. Think outside the box. Your son or daughter’s natural gifts and abilities may find a place in the marketplace. Video platforms are flourishing which makes it possible for your child to teach something on their own Youtube or Periscope channel.
Learn a Trade
Many of our craftsmen are getting older and which is leaving a gap that the younger generation can fill. Young adults can learn a skilled trade and earn a very good living. This is another alternative that may not require a four-year degree. Auto mechanics and photographers are invaluable. Appliance repairmen command good salaries as well. These are jobs that are valuable but do not necessarily require a four-year degree.
Mike Rowe has found a new appreciation for skilled labor. He has written a book entitled Profoundly Disconnected which highlights the beauty of doing an honest day’s hard work. Check out the Mike Rowe’s reading here. He focusses on the skilled labor jobs. He is attempting to help others appreciate these jobs. The skilled labor or blue collar jobs have lost esteem in the eyes of many of our youth.
Perhaps that is a mistake.
These are jobs that may not be glamorous but one can raise a family. Enjoy Mike reading the preface to his book. You will enjoy the book but please, do not listen to it while you are eating. You have been warned. Click the link at the bottom.
The community college is another alternative to higher education. If a four-year college is still a goal of your young adult, encourage them to look into community colleges for the basic courses. Students take general education courses in community college at a fraction of the cost of a four-year college. This allows the student to save money as they complete approximately half of their college coursework at an institution that costs a portion of the four-year college cost.
Apprenticeships are also great alternatives to going the traditional higher education route. They are similar to internships in that they both offer close interaction with a seasoned skilled laborer. This relationship allows for the expert in the relationship to give the student close instruction and supervision as the student is learning a new skill. Apprenticeships are paid position. This is the difference between the two opportunities. The construction industry is experiencing growth in the offering apprenticeships
Join the Military
The military life can be a good alternative to higher education for a young man or woman. I have written a blog post about homeschoolers and humanity and the military academies. There are many homeschool families that may be interested in the academies. Read the post to find out what you will need if you are a homeschool family. They are it’s an opportunity for young men and women to dig deep and find the courage and strength to serve our country. Students can get a sense of what military life is like by joining Jr. ROTC in high school. The military life is one of discipline and dedication students can gain a sense of patriotism and loyalty.
Interestingly, our young adults have many freedoms they may not be ready for. They may not say it out loud, but they enjoy the structure that the military life offers. The structure allows the young adult to mature and discover his or her strengths and weaknesses while contribution to the defense of his or her country.
Finally, it is easy to see that there are several options to the traditional higher education route. Hopefully, this will give some insight as to what is possible for a young adult. Are there other options not mentioned here? Do you have an opportunity for a young high school graduate?