Over the past three generations, there has been a huge pendulum swing of attitudes toward higher education. In the 1960s and 1970s, men only went to college for white collar jobs. A man could make a good living with no college degree because many men did not even have a high school diploma. Most women did not attend college at all because they usually married right out of high school. In the 1980s and 1990s, college became a part of the American dream. Parents expected boys and girls to go to college. How else could America compete in a global society?
Today, many discourage high school graduates from going to college because trades have so many job openings and because college only leads to debt. How do parents offer sound advice?
The MOST important thing is to find out what your child wants to do. Then find out the entry-level requirements in that field. If your child wants to be a doctor, he or she has no hope of gaining “on-the-job” experience—it is illegal to practice medicine without credentials. If your child wants to be an electrician, find out how one becomes a journeyman. If your child wants a military career, research enlistment requirements for each branch. If your child does not know what to do, begin exploring career fields by attending job fairs, talking to friends, or researching labor market information.
Exploring the Options
Here are post-high school education options, as well as advantages and pitfalls to avoid for each:
If your child’s career choice requires government-regulated certification or licensing such as medical boards or legal bars, he or she must go to college.
Kids who love book learning thrive in college. These students love getting straight A’s and pour themselves into homework.
College is also good for social students who love being involved in organizations.
Colleges cost the most, so do not embark on this journey without a clear goal.
Many trades have great job security. No one will outsource a plumber’s job to India. Keep in mind, though, that some trades tend to be seasonal.
Trade education typically incurs less debt and provides more opportunity for on-the-job training. This means your student can begin making money sooner.
Kids who like hands-on learning will thrive in the trades. They did not relish making the best grades possible.
Since trades require physical labor, a career depends on continued good physical health.
Your child will or will not express interest in the military. If he or she has no interest in the military, do not press the issue. Our country does not need soldiers uncommitted to personal sacrifice.
The military provides food, shelter, clothing, a paycheck, and an education. If your child has no means to go to college, the military may be a good option.
Choose military jobs that have transferable skills. Machine guns fascinate young men, but machine gun skills usually only transfer to law enforcement. However, an air traffic controller has many transferable skills. If your child chooses a job with fewer transferable skills, encourage him or her to take the extracurricular courses offered by many branches.
Each branch has different entry requirements – especially for homeschoolers. Do your research early.
A Special Note for Girls
Some parents discourage their daughters from getting an education because they see no point in acquiring debt if all “godly” young women get married and have children. Stop feeding your daughters this dangerous teaching.
You cannot guarantee that your daughter will get married early in life
You cannot guarantee that your daughter’s husband will be able to provide an adequate living.
You cannot guarantee that your daughter’s husband will have a good work ethic.
You cannot guarantee that your daughter will not be widowed at a young age.
Many parents claim that girls can learn to make money from home with sewing, baking, etc. However, with today’s laws about health codes and small business taxes, your daughter needs some basic classes on how to run a small business at home.
Lastly, do not let your personal examples and philosophies hinder your child from fulfilling God’s calling. If God has called your son or daughter to be a doctor, plumber, soldier, or working mom, how dare you interfere?