While this was not the case in past generations, today it is pretty much assumed that the immediate next step for high school graduates is college. And, it is assumed they will enter college at the age of 18. Despite these traditions, it is often not the best choice to do so, for the student or for their parents’ pocketbook. In fact, I think it is this misguided sense of lockstep momentum that is part of what has driven new statistics that show most college students at public universities will end up completing their bachelor’s degree in six years, not four. Here are some things to keep in mind.
College is not for every kid and it was never intended to be. There are many other excellent training opportunities for students in trade, in the military, or through certification programs.
Even for those who will eventually go to college, there are some students (particularly boys) who do not blossom until late in the junior year or even the senior year. Or, perhaps a student discovers learning differences late in the game that have negatively impacted their academic standing. In either case, their grades are not what they could have been and their test scores do not reflect their true ability. Sometimes we just need to give them time to catch up with themselves academically. Perhaps a super senior year is needed or a year at a local community college before moving on. Maybe the child needs to learn study skills or get specialized tutoring.
Maybe the student does not have enough life experience to have any idea about what they want to study in college. A gap year could give them time to explore, to talk to people in various careers, to get work experience. Without a burning drive to accomplish something specific, most students do not perform well in college.
Perhaps a student has no sense of organization and has trouble completing assignments. If they are struggling in high school, college can be a nightmare. Take the time now to get students tested for possible learning differences and then find people to help them with the skills they need to manage those issues. It could be that just a habit change will help. Whichever it is, be sure to get this corrected before shipping your student across the country or they could be facing discouragement and failure at a very early age.
College is a great choice for many, but make sure that you only pursue it when the time is right for your child.
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