As a school counselor and a person with multiple degrees, sometimes it’s a hard sentiment for me to wrap my head around. But in this day in age, maybe your kid shouldn’t go to college. When I was in high school and considering my next steps, not going to college wasn’t an option. My parents expected me to go to college, and most of my peers were going to college. Going to community college was almost looked down upon. It wasn’t as prestigious as attending a traditional four year university.
Thankfully, in the last decade, a lot has changed. We as a society have started to put value and emphasis on going into the trades because they are essential and extremely important. More of these programs are getting a bigger push in our high schools in the area. Enrollment is growing in post-secondary training, and that is a great thing.
So, if your child chooses not to go to a traditional college, what are your options? If you suspect your child may be seeking a non-traditional post-secondary experience, you can start his or her plans as early as high school. Many districts offer programs where students receive training and instruction for their anticipated career and they graduate with a certificate along with their high school diploma.
Career and Technical Education
Very similar to WDFTC, Oakland County has Oakland Schools Technical Campuses (OSTC). OSTC offers nearly 15 programs over four campuses. Students can become certified in the areas of Cosmetology, Computer Programming, Welding, and Energy-Electrical Technology.
Many of these programs offer a hands-on approach to learning. Using real-life experiences, industry professionals, and state of the art technology, students get a truly unique educational experience that will set them apart from others when they enter the workforce.
William D. Ford Technical Center (WDFTC) in Wayne-Westland Community Schools is home to nearly 20 programs that are taught by industry professionals that are relevant and still working in their field. Students from over a dozen districts in Wayne County attend classes in this state of the art facility.
Upon completion of their program, students can graduate ready to go to work in their desired field. For example, students that complete the Health Occupations program have the opportunity to earn a license to become a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). This means a student could enter the workforce and earn a higher rate of pay than their peers without that certificate.
A program like this would also be a great option for a student who is thinking about becoming a registered nurse. Extra exposure and preparation will allow them to make a more informed decision when it comes to deciding what they are going to do following high school.
While still a college education, community college is an excellent and more affordable option for many students. In most instances, community colleges work with local universities in order to make sure students get all or most of their credits earned transferred to a four year university.
Many community colleges offer wonderful programs for high demand careers. For example, Schoolcraft has options for accelerated programs for obtaining your teaching credentials if you already possess a bachelor’s degree, and several programs tailored to helping students who want to advance their career in nursing.
Early College Programs
Over the past few years, several local districts have started Early College Programs. Most of these programs are affiliated with local community colleges. While some of the details for these programs might be a little different, the basic concept is that they add one year to your traditional high school experience but by adding the extra year, you actually complete your High School Diploma and either your Associate’s Degree, college credits, or an industry certification for free. Reach out to your child’s high school counselor and see if this is an option in the distinct that your children attend.
As always, joining the military might be a good option for some. There are many benefits that come from joining the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corp. While there are some great benefits, there are also some drawbacks that people need to be aware of when they are enlisting.
Those who enlist in the military are entitled to lots of benefits, one being the GI Bill. The GI Bill provides financial assistance and housing allowances to those who have served our country and are wanting to further education. By joining a branch of our armed services, soldiers have the opportunity to see the world and experience different places. While these are all great opportunities, none of these experiences come without the possibility of some danger and being away from family for an extended period of time.
In conclusion, as a parent, you know your child best. Many children will go on to traditional four year universities and be very successful. But for some students, urging them to go the traditional route might not be best for them. While I don’t think every child should go to college, I think every child should have a post-secondary plan in place when they graduate from high school.