When your child is getting close to graduating high school and deciding on what they want to do after, it can be especially stressful for parents. In all cases, college is a great idea, although there are many different types of college and ways to gain the knowledge they need to succeed. Traditional colleges aren't for everyone, and technical, vocational, and art schools can all offer a path towards obtaining a career of their choice.
Why should they go to college?
Going to college is a good idea for more than one reason. Most importantly, college will help train and education your child for a career, not just a job. On average, college graduates tend to make more than those without a college degree, especially when first starting out. Likewise, those with a college degree tend to be healthier throughout their life, smoke less, and are able to find a job with access to health insurance.
What do they want to do?
Possibly the first thing to ask your kid is what they want to do when they get old? That can be a lot to think about at first, but just the fact that they are thinking about it will help guide them in the right direction. In fact, they don't have to know exactly what they want to do right out of the get-go. There is nothing wrong with not declaring a major for the first or even second year of college. Most of the first few semesters of college are generals and prerequisites anyway.
If they don't want to go, why?
Ask them why they don't want to go to college and why. As a parent, this means that you have to actually listen to them and respect their goals. Don't just try to rebut their answer by dismissing what they have to say, give them a chance to think about their idea of success and where they want to go with their life.
This is a chance for you to connect with your child and maybe even find a way to relate to them on a personal level. Not everyone wants to or is ready for the responsibility of what college requires. However, college is a great way to obtain just about any goal, even if it seems like what they want to do is non-traditional. Take this as an opportunity to do some research of your own to help your kid be who they want to be.
Have they considered a vocational or tech school?
Vocational and tech schools are a great way to go if your kid wants to get trained in a field that a traditional college is unable to offer: for example, becoming a mechanic, electrician, or a career in the environmental sciences. The important thing is they major in a field that allows them to find a career that they will be happy with after they graduate. Pushing them into a degree field that they don't want to be in is only going to cause more stress while they are in college and even moreso when they graduate.
Show them their options
This goes with the above advice, but it deserves to be stated. Help them research and find out about all of their options. Do they want to take a year off and travel abroad? Do they have no idea what they want to do for the rest of their life and need to do some soul searching? Being a parent means that you will have to respect their decision no matter what it is. The main thing is that you are there to support them and help them along the way. Success is defined by each person differently, and besides, you never know what opportunities will present themselves as your child matures.
Many people simply have no idea what they want to do, kids and adults alike, and sometimes it takes work, life, and academic experience to find out. Being open-minded about what your kid wants to do will help them make a choice that is responsible and will also be what they want to do.
Also, as much as people stress the importance of majoring in a field that is in demand and makes a lot of money, like nursing or engineering, the path to success will take many roads. As technology and innovation becomes more important in every industry, there will be no shortage of businesses looking to hire people who have a diverse background and set of skills.