(about planning for their future)
My last article asked students to reflect about their interests and natural inclinations while thinking about their choices for a life-long career.
When first discussing career choices the prospective student will grow weary of the phrase “best fit”. This is usually taken to describe the school at which the student will be most comfortable. Somewhere in its definition, however, it should include finding the education that “best fits” the students (and parents) long term financial goals.
But for this post, we’ll look again at some of the educational options.
Free training – Never underestimate the power of self-initiative. It just may be the single most important quality that many employer are seeking. Free training for just about any career can be found on-line. I have worked with highly skilled, self-taught employees in a wide variety of disciplines. Finding a job without career placement assistance can be a challenging obstacle for those pursuing a self-taught career. Use seminars, professional organizations, or events to begin networking early with those in the industry. You may even find a mentor to assist your pursuits. For more information on self-taught careers take a look at https://careertrend.com/jobs-can-self-taught-7970.html.
Internships are paid or unpaid, short-term, educational training programs typically offered to undergraduate students seeking to learn a little bit more about a type of industry before committing to a specific career-path; while gaining work experience and confidence. At the end of the internship, there is are no expectations for a job offer. Internships can be a great way for students to receive training and pick up some cash for their educational pursuits.
Apprenticeships offer the benefits of education, hands on experience, and pay. A tried-and-true standard for the building trades, now healthcare, hospitality, IT, and other industries are embracing apprenticeships as a viable option for obtaining a skilled workforce. There is a great amount of time, effort, and resources training an apprentice. The intention is to create a highly-skilled employee to which the company is confident to offer a job. A great benefit for the apprentice, is that they begin getting paid while they are being trained. This gives them an opportunity to start saving money, and starting their life without the debt that is often associated with trade school or college. For more information on apprenticeships, check out https://www.apprenticeship.gov/. For information regarding apprenticeships in the building trades take a look at https://aflcio.org/about-us/careers-and-apprenticeships, https://www.abc.org/Education-Training/Craft-Training-Apprenticeship, or https://www.ieci.org/apprenticeship.
Vocational or trade schools offer training for a specific career. Their coursework does not require general studies classes and can be completed in a much shorter time. Trade schools may offer an associate’s degree, a certification, or another document to signify completion of their program. If you think this may be a good fit, see https://mycollegeguide.org/blog/2011/04/vocational-school/ for a list of the ever-increasing number of careers that can be started via vocational school training. Vocational training may be facility-based an hands-on, or it may be online training only. Vocational schools offer some kind of document or certificate at the completion of their coursework. But use caution in choosing the school or program. Many schools are not accredited or licensed by any agency to verify that their programs meet an industry standard. Take time to read the schools offerings, but also research their credentials and reviews. Not doing so may leave you with a lot of debt and no career. For more information about choosing a vocational school see https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0241-choosing-vocational-school.
Community colleges are smaller colleges usually offering 2 year, and sometimes 4 year, degrees. With the proper accreditation, the college hours earned at these colleges will transfer to a 4 year college and apply towards a bachelor’s degree. Often appealing to students because of the lower tuition and the ability to live at home while taking coursework, attending these colleges can dramatically reduce the cost for a 2 or 4 year degree.
College degrees have become a standard requirement for many employers. As it is with trade schools, a 2-year associate’s degree may be all that is necessary to begin work in a specific career. Often, however, a 4 (or 5) year bachelor’s degree is required for an entry-level position. Pursuing a four year degree gives students who are unsure about their career choice, time to investigate their options and interests. And although some trade schools can be equally as expensive, the cost of a college degree is typically the most expensive choice for career training. With that said, the difference in costs for similar degrees received at different institutions can be staggering. Researching the options is a big task that will seem overwhelming to the prospective student. They will need guidance with the process (and its related frustration). But this is their future and they need to be armed with enough knowledge to make a good decision. Starting early with the process will set expectations, ease frustration, and help avoid making a last-minute decision. Here are some good websites to get an review of the overall process:
- https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/get-started. https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/pay-for-college/college-costs/college-costs-faqs
Whether you’re a student lucky enough to know exactly what you want to do in life, or whether you’re unsure of your interests and need more time and guidance, then I hope you now see there are many tools and educational options available to help you reach your goals.
Finding the ‘best fit’ may seem like an insurmountable problem. But hey….many of life’s issues seem that way at first. This is the great part of becoming an adult. Learning to make decisions for yourself. It’s not easy. But it the challenge can be fun.
The next post in this series will examine key financial drivers for educational choices. This is a tough conversation. Both parents and students would like to be able to completely fund the pursuit of dreams, wherever that leads. But there are financial realities that must be considered both during, and after, your training; as you step into life after school. We’ll expand on understanding the financial assistance programs available for each of the choices. We’ll also look at some of the processes college applicants must now go through; whether or not they can expect financial aid. This is a key component of making a quality ‘best fit’ decision. It will also contain additional resources for the application and financial aid processes. So you won’t want to miss it!
As always, thanks for reading.
And remember to take the next step…