What if College is not for me? Personal Insights from a Parent’s Perspective

by | Apr 16, 2024 | Mental Health Therapy

graphic of different types of educational paths one can consider

Reflecting on my journey as the parent of a young adult for whom college was not the ideal path, I discovered the value of looking beyond traditional academic degrees. Our local community college offered a variety of certificate programs ranging from business and marketing to cyber security and animal care. These options revealed an array of opportunities that we hadn’t previously considered.

My son initially pursued a business major, but it soon became evident that a conventional degree might not be the best fit for him at the time. Nevertheless, by redirecting his focus, he was able to earn a Certificate in Customer Service. This achievement was more than just a piece of paper; it was a milestone that bestowed upon him a sense of accomplishment, vital skills, and valuable additions to his resume.

What if College is not for me? Explore Diverse Paths to Success

Vocational Training and Trade Schools: Specialized, hands-on education that prepares you for specific trades, often leading to rewarding careers in a shorter time frame.

Community College: These institutions offer associate degrees, certificate programs, and trade certifications at an affordable cost, providing a flexible route to further education or career preparation. Southeast Technical College is an option in the Sioux Falls area.

Apprenticeships: A blend of on-the-job training and classroom learning that earns you a wage while you acquire skills in a trade, bypassing the need for a traditional degree.

Online Courses and Certification Programs: Digital platforms offer a wealth of knowledge across industries, allowing you to learn at your pace and on your terms.

Starting a Business: For those with entrepreneurial aspirations, starting your own business could be the ultimate expression of your passion and skills.

Workforce Entry: Directly entering the workforce can offer practical experience and opportunities for advancement through dedication and hard work.

Gap Year: A thoughtfully planned gap year can provide clarity and direction, enriching your understanding of yourself and your future aspirations.

Military Service: Serving offers discipline, skill development, and educational benefits, along with the honor of contributing to your country.

Internships and Volunteer Work: Gaining experience and building a professional network through internships and volunteering can open doors to future opportunities. If someplace you would like to work does not offer internships, contact the human resource department and ask if there are any possibilities. Many opportunities are self made and take a little effort. Do not get discouraged if the internship is not paid; my experience has been the best experience unpaid and has led to the most opportunities for employment in your chosen field.

Self-Education and Personal Projects: In fields where your portfolio speaks louder than your degree, self-driven projects can showcase your skills and dedication.

A Journey of Individual Growth

Remember, success and fulfillment are deeply personal and can’t be neatly packaged into a one-size-fits-all approach. Life’s richness lies in its diversity, and every individual’s journey is unique. As a parent and a therapist, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of embracing alternative paths. It’s through exploring these varied routes that we can uncover our true potential, align our careers with our passions, and carve out a fulfilling life that resonates with who we are at our core.