Alternatives to College that Might be Right for Your Teen

College isn’t for everyone. And if it’s not right for your teen, don’t try to force your teen to further his education. Instead, explore the alternatives to college together.

1. Joining the Military

The military can be a good option for teens who really aren’t sure what they want to do. If your teen is interested in the military, however, it’s important for her to do her research about what she’s actually signing herself up for before making the decision.

Talk openly about the pros and cons of joining the military and ensure that your teen adequately researchers the different branches of the military before making any decisions.

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2. Starting a Business

Although many teens don’t have the skills and experience necessary to be a successful entrepreneur right out of high school, there are plenty of successful businesses that have been started by teens. If your teen has an interest in starting a business, make sure he has the skills necessary before allowing him to venture out on his own. Help him start a small business during high school to see how he enjoys being an entrepreneur and to see if it’s really something he wants to do after high school.

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3. Finding a job

Some teens may just want to enter the workforce right away. For teens who aren’t certain if they want to go to college or what they want to do, entering the workforce can be the best option.

After working for a year, some people will likely want to continue working while others may decide to further their education or try something new.

Help your teen obtain part-time jobs and summer employment to gain work experience throughout high school. Make sure your teen knows how to complete a job application and practice interviewing skills prior to his first job interview.

4. Volunteering

Some teens may choose to take some time to volunteer after high school. However, most of them will need a little bit of income to survive on their own. Places like the Peace Corps provide for a person’s basic needs while they conduct their volunteer work. Peace Corps volunteers work throughout the world to address problems such as AIDS and environmental preservation. Teens can learn valuable life lessons through volunteer work but it’s important that they educate themselves about the drawbacks and potential risks. For teens who don’t want to travel internationally, Americorps offers volunteer opportunities in various communities across the United States.

5. Attending Vocational or Technical School

Vocational and technical schools help people learn a trade without the requirements of a liberal arts degree. They can prepare people for a variety of occupations including chef, truck driver, hair stylist, and mechanic. Some programs may only run a few months in length while others may take a couple of years. They cost less than traditional college and can help students gain valuable experience and knowledge that will prepare them for careers.

6. Earning Certifications or Licenses

There are often many short-term certifications and licenses that don’t require a college degree.

Usually, there is a workshop or a test that students must pass to obtain the certification or license. For example, a real estate license can be obtained in many states after taking a course and passing a test. These types of careers can be good for teens who aren’t interested in college but do want further training or expertise.

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