How to Make the Decision?
Deciding which path to choose after high school can be a hard one to make if your grades are good enough to enroll you into a college. Having that option is considered a good thing most of the time as the adventure of choosing one is very attractive. However, when one doesn’t feel ready for the academic requirements that college courses demand, the choice is not as simple.
The best way to determine if college is the right option is to evaluate your academic skills honestly. Since, most students are required to take the same basic English, Math, and Science courses in their freshmen years, evaluating one’s skills in those areas in high school is a good place to determine whether college is the right choice at that time.
The checklist of items to use for this decision are as follows:
1)High School Grades
2)Aptitude for Learning
3)Fundamental Skill Set
If a student is receiving Cs or less in these core course in 8th grade and 9th grade with no discernible improvement even into 10th grade, college is likely the wrong choice for the year immediately following high school. For students with Bs and higher in these courses, college can be considered an option with the higher the academic grade, the greater the probability of that option. College Board exams must also be taken by students in this category and they must be planned and scheduled. For students expecting to take the college boards, start practice as early as 8th grade. The sooner one starts, the more practice one gets and practice always make perfect.
Learning from books and lecture is not for everyone, but if your student has the right aptitude for it, is engaged, and enjoys learning that way, that would indicate a high probability of success at the next level. If they do not like to read or simply do not function well in a classroom with rigorous rules, show talents in a less structured environment or one that uses skills not taught in a traditional academic setting, then college is likely not the right choice. At least, not right away.
Fundamental Skill Set
What is the student’s fundamental skill set? Are they academically inclined meaning that they enjoy sitting at desks for extended periods of time doing homework or do they resist that? Or are they more interesting in building something than opening their books? If they exhibit tendencies of the former, then they should be in good stead for the next level. However, if they are more inclined to be in the garage building or fixing something, a purely academic institution may not be the best environment for them to succeed as quickly as they should.
Finally, the family finances must come into play as someone has to pay for the education. If the finances require loans to be taken out, the loans have to be researched to determine the one with the smallest interest rate, but so does the intended major as job prospects based on the choice of major should indicate how quickly the loan can be repaid. If the finances are not available and the loans look too onerous, work or vocational school may be the better option.
Work does two things that can be a huge benefit to a student. The first is that it pays of course, which generates income rather than the education creating an expense hole in your budget. The income is nice, but to a young person, it may not mean that much because they may spend it all. This is where a budget is necessary to develop.
However, there are other lessons to be learned here. One is that there is an emotional education taking place as the young person works. They learn responsibility by doing rather than through lecture. That tends to stick more. The second is that with the income they make at whatever wage they are being paid, they can evaluate the cost of the education path they considered before. This is another form of experiential education that is often taught in a classroom setting and fails miserably because the students see it abstractly rather than as reality. The result of all this experience is that when they do realize the cost-benefit relationship of that education program, they perform far better in that environment because they recognize its value.
Vocational schools train for specific jobs that are in demand and these schools generally cost less than a traditional college. They are also often far shorter in duration as the curriculum is based on the current employment needs. They can be a terrific stepping stone for a young person.
Deciding on what to do after high school is never an easy decision considering everything that must go into it, but it is essential to start the decision process early enough for all paths to be considered fully and plans to be made.