Alternatives to a Traditional College Degree

by | May 1, 2015 | By The Grade | 0 comments

As the mother of 8, seven with dyslexia and two 10th graders looking to their futures, I set out to write this 10-day series on Preparing Your Student with Dyslexia for College Success so that I would have the info that I need to help my dyslexic kids to be successful should they choose to go to college.

If you are new here, you should know that while I come from a long line of college-educated folks, my husband is not.  In fact, I don’t know of one of his family members that has attended college.  However, he is one of the most brilliant and insightful people that I know.  He has single-handedly supported our family of 10 for all of these years by utilizing his exceptional entrepreneurial skills and solid work ethic.  We have traveled extensively with the culmination of this adventurous living being that our two oldest kids took their junior years off of high school to attempt  amazing world record setting sailing adventures of their own.  (Psst… neither of them has gone to college since then!)

It took many years for me to even begin to believe that there are viable alternatives to a traditional college degree.

Alternatives to a Traditional College Degree

What better way to end this series on preparing for college ( and yes, I wholeheartedly believe that all dyslexic kids can succeed in college if that is where there passions lie) than to talk about alternatives to a college course of study.

Just Google ‘alternatives to college’ and you will be bombarded with insightful writings on the current state of college education;  it’s financial burdens, lack of guarantee of securing a job, and the state of debauchery experienced on campus.

Is it really worth going into many tens of thousands of dollars of debt with such a dubious return?

I won’t go into all of the pros and cons of whether or not to pursue a college degree here.  Suffice to say that there are alternatives to college.  These alternatives lead to happy, successful and meaningful lives.

If your child is not passionate about attending college, having a good sense of what he or she wants to actually gain by going to college, perhaps you should consider one of these alternatives:

Certification Programs

Certification programs are available through community colleges, free standing for-profit schools or corporate programs.  These programs vary in price and length of study but they all offer specific training to do a specific job such as medical assistant, information technology, photography, film and many other fields.  Often taking less than a year to complete, these types of training can equip a person with the skills to get a good job earning far more than their uncertified peers.

Associates Degrees

More and more employers are looking for this 2-year degree often offered by the local community college.  On average, people with an associate degree earn 24% more than those with a high school diploma alone.  These degrees usually result in a career-oriented skill such as nursing, or business and information technology.

Trade School

Trade schools allow students to learn basic, professional skills in two years or less.  Trade schools eliminate the general-ed type of courses and get right to the core skills needed to get a job.

Get Experience

Life experience can help a person to hone in on their potential career interests.  Work experience can also look good on a resume.  There are other experiences as well.  Travel, taking classes (without working towards a major) or volunteering are other areas of experience that can benefit a young person as they try to find their niche in the world.

Start a Business

Not all business owners have a college degree, in fact, many people who don’t necessarily make a good traditional student also make some of the best entrepreneurs because of their passion and people skills – two of the most important things to have in a successful business.

When I speak to parents of dyslexic children, I notice that many of us are worried.  We’re worried about these kids who learn differently and how they will ever ‘get a job’ or get a degree’ and ‘be successful’.

Passion and Ability

I am always quick to remind them of something that their dyslexic kids already have – the big picture.  What does your child like to do?  I mean really like to do?  What is your child good at?  I mean where are their giftings?  Where do their talents lie?  In my experience, it is often where these two things intersect – passion and ability – that their future lies.

If this formula leads to college – fine.  If not, fine.  Just as many dyslexic people have overcome the odds to successfully complete Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral degrees in many walks of life so have many gifted and talented people NOT gone to college and gone on to live successful and fulfilling lives.

It isn’t about telling your kids to aim high or to aim low, it is about finding the path that they were made for, which in the end, with the right skills and motivation will result in success and fulfillment.

What do you think?  Is it possible to build a successful career without going to college?



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