Q&A: Deciding against further education


Our son completes secondary education this year, and we’re really struggling with what his next step should be. We want to offer him the prospect of a bright future, but formal education has never been his forte. He’s very gifted mechanically and enthusiastically works on our cars and projects around the house. But his friends are all headed off to college, and it seems he should do the same. What are your thoughts?

Answer: We can appreciate the emotions behind the decision you (and many other families) are facing. You and your son are standing at one of life’s biggest forks in the road: should he go on to college or take another route?

The truth is college isn’t for everybody. Did you know that forty-six per cent of young people who start college never finish? Sometimes it’s a financial issue. Sometimes it’s because they simply aren’t ready for college-level work.

Whatever the reason, deciding against college doesn’t have to mean sacrificing a strong future. There are a number of jobs that pay well, offer good career paths, and don’t require a college degree. Many skilled trades – for which your son seems to have an aptitude – provide apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

If you and your son decide higher education is the right path, it’s worth taking the time to find a school that best fits his interests and goals. And be sure to compare tuition costs. Just because a college costs twice as much doesn’t mean it offers an education that’s twice as valuable.

Whatever path your son chooses, remind him of this: What employers look for most are candidates who are disciplined, reliable, and of good character. Those are qualities that will help create a solid future regardless of whether your child goes to college or not.

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