Another school year is ending, and another crop of students are graduating high school. Many parents would probably like their kids to go to college immediately, but that isn’t necessary. If you’re flexible as a parent, you may realize that there are many other worthwhile things your kids can do besides go to college immediately.
Consider some of these activities:
1. Volunteer or work in their field
Is your child considering a career field that may require quite a bit of education such as a college professor or a veterinarian? If so, rather than jumping right into college, your child might benefit by taking the time to volunteer or work in the field first to make sure it is right for her.
I went to college with a guy named Brian who wanted to be a high school English teacher. He didn’t start working as an English tutor in the college’s writing lab until his last year of college. Turns out, he hated teaching so much that he decided not to go into the field. Instead, when I last knew him, four years after college, he was still working as a cashier at a grocery store.
Another option is to volunteer for a large organization like the Peace Corps. To serve, a person must be 18 years of age or older and a U.S. citizen. Volunteers sign up to serve in an area for two years.
Not only is this an excellent opportunity to give selflessly, but being a member of the Peace Corps can also help your child potentially find a job and learn about another language and culture. Depending on your child’s ultimate career field, Peace Corps experience can be looked upon very favorably.
3. Work a minimum wage job
Wait, we’re not supposed to want our now adult children to work a minimum wage job, right? We’re supposed to want better for them and see them make a comfortable living.
That’s true, but sometimes, especially for a child who is burned out from school or who doesn’t like school, letting him work a low-paying job is the best thing you can do for him. At first, he may feel like he’s living the high life since, even at a minimum wage job, if he’s working full-time he’s likely making more than he’s ever earned in his life.
However, as he continues to work this job and wants to become more independent by living on his own, he’ll soon realize that he may not be able to do what he wants financially if he doesn’t learn a skill. This doesn’t mean he has to go to a four year college, though he might want to. He may just need to learn a trade or complete a two-year degree. Letting him experience life, though, is a great way to motivate him to pursue further education.
4. See the world
Once you marry and have children, seeing the world is very hard to do. Packing up and taking a trip to Europe when you’re 18 is much easier to do, especially if you’re by yourself or traveling with a friend. This is an excellent time to see the world and become more independent.
I once worked with a man, Kevin, who at the time was in his mid-forties. He still enjoyed talking about the year he took off between high school and college and backpacked through Europe. He made money by working as a laborer for farmers in the countryside. When he had enough money, he was on his way to the next country.
Not only did he learn independence, but he also created memories that last a lifetime.
You may want your child to go to college immediately after high school, and for some, that works out fine. For others, you may want to give them plenty of space and encouragement to forge their own life path.
Did you attend college immediately after high school, or did you take a break?