Author Topic: What would you do if college wasn't an option?  (Read 7088 times)

Making Cookies

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What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« on: November 28, 2016, 09:35:02 AM »
These days college seems to be the defacto path of success but clearly it isn't for everyone. I'm seeking the group's advice on what to suggest to our son if he decides not to go to college.

What stable, constructive path(s) can we suggest? DW and I both went to college and frankly weíre a bit detached from the non-college possibilities. Plenty of low paying unstable jobs out there that are easy to get but what else can everyone here suggest that is stable and something a person can build a life around?

Iíll try to lay it all out logically but I apologize if I ramble. There is the whole extended family backdrop that shaped DW and I and our parenting style but I won't put it here now. Too long.

We have a teenager in his junior year. Iím seeking advice on how to shape (encourage) his next several years. There is a lack of a defined plan or goals. Heís very content to be a teenager just hanging out with his friends. Nothing wrong with that - to a point. We encourage it - to a point.

The problem is academics are just not interesting to him and all of his friends are making plans for college and beyond. Not our teenager. I fear he plans to just keep on living at home doing the same things he is doing now - being a kid.

His current status: mediocre grades, disinterest in everything academic. They arenít challenging him b/c his grades have led to placement in classes for the students not likely going to college. The honors classes donít offer much hope either. He isnít going to do the work so whatís the point?

He attends a good high school with amazing opportunities to study and participate. He could for example go to community college next year part time during his senior year.

He is a very happy teenager with good friends and a happy life. He is a great kid. He's smart. Friendly. Good looking guy. Very good with a smart girlfriend. They don't fight. She has great plans for herself. Already laid out when she goes away for college. We enjoy spending time with them as a couple when she comes over for dinner or a movie.

He had another successful summer at the same job for second summer where he was the last guy standing - he was their "star employee" always on time and doing a good job. Everyone else was fired for goofing off or not coming to work b/c summer was more important. Our teen is careful with his money.

marion10

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2016, 09:49:25 AM »
Just because college isn't an option now- doesn't mean that it won't be in a few years. What was his summer job? If he has a good work ethic- that goes a long way. Is working there full time an option after graduation? Also- investigate apprenticeships in the trades- carpenter, electrician, etc. Take a look at your community college- do they offer any short term certificate type programs of a few months that would lead to a job?

Next- after graduation- think about what you expect him to contribute if he is still living with you. Do you expect him to pay room and board? What about spending money? Car? gas?  car insurance ?Get an agreement with your wife and start discussing those expectations now. Personally, I would not make things too comfortable for him. It's fine to stay at a minimum wage job when it's all pocket money for you and your parents are taking care of everything else.

nobody123

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #2 on: November 28, 2016, 10:08:44 AM »
I agree that you need to talk to your wife and figure out what you as parents are willing to allow once he graduates HS.  I wouldn't force him to go to college or attend community college if his head / heart isn't in it, it will just waste time and money.

I would charge rent, for food, not do any laundry, etc., so he will be forced to realize that being an adult comes with responsibilities, and those are a lot easier to cope with if you have a decent income.

I would gently point out that his GF will be going off to college meeting equally attractive boys that will have much better jobs than him, so if his plan is to wait for 4 years and then live happily ever after he needs a reality check.

There is nothing wrong with the skilled trades.  Being an electrician or plumber is a decent living, and leaves the door open for entrepreneurship.  If he has a strong work ethic but dislikes academics, maybe that's a path he can try out.

doneby35

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2016, 10:14:34 AM »
I disliked academics too. If he's into computers at all, then maybe coding or IT would be a good option where he could learn just by getting his hands dirty and the whole internet as a knowledge base. A career in these is usually about skills and a lot of employers do not care much about whether you went to college or how good your grades are. BUT with that said, he should still go to college.

researcher1

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2016, 10:34:22 AM »
There is an easy answer to your question...
From what you describe, he would be perfectly suited to getting into one of the many skilled trades that are so desperately needed in this country.

I would have him start exploring various trades and maybe shadowing a few that he is most interested in.
Then once he graduates high school (or before) he can start on down the training/apprenticeship route.
He has the potential to start earning serious money in just a few years, with plenty of opportunity for growth.

I think you should research which skilled trades have the best earning potential, career progression, safety records, but here are a few off the top of my head:
- Finish Carpentry
- Electrician
- Welder
- HVAC
- Plumbing
- Heavy Equipment Operator
- Crane Operator (big $$)

Take a few minutes and Google "Skilled Trades Shortage."  There is a severe shortage of competent/dependable workers across nearly all skilled trades.

OptimizeOptimism

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #5 on: November 28, 2016, 10:42:01 AM »
It looks like your son is already well on his way to learning a great lesson about the work-world. The fact that he lasted through a high-turnover situation the last couple of summers is a great way for him to see that in some industries/companies the most valuable trait in an employee is not being an idiot.

Anecdote: I worked pretty steadily in high school at a movie theatre for a couple of years. Before I left for college I thought very seriously for a hot minute about staying in town an taking a full time position, eventually learning the projectionist role (the only thing I hadn't done by then because age limits) and then eventually moving into management. I say "eventually" management but it probably would have happened within a year or two just because of the turnover there. Within a decade I probably could have had a shot of a regional job and been making close to what I am now. If not, I would have opportunities to move into management at other (better) companies. Yea, the pay was shit at the level I was at at the time, but just by virtue of outlasting the competition and being cognizant of opportunities as they presented themselves this would have been a feasible path for me, especially if I had been able to be as careful with my money then as I am now.

I did end up choosing the college-road (and for many reasons am very glad I did) but what the above is meant to convey is that if your son likes what he does during the summer now there's a lot opportunity to learn about what ever industry that is from the ground up and use that knowledge to his advantage. Thinking very long term, if he's really good with the money he earns, he may be able to consider opportunities to go into business for himself. And it could happen all the sooner if he picks and industry/trade, dives in head first and STICKS WITH IT. Starting this process early is a huge leg up that I think is hugely undervalued.

Now, if he's not inclined to stay with his current company there are many opportunities out there.

I personally am a fan of encouraging young people with any technical aptitude at all into manufacturing. (Wait... hasn't all manufacturing fled the US? Not by a long shot.) A lot of my company's locations hire summer help around your son's age to do things like paint touch-ups. Easy way to get an idea of what opportunities exist in a plant. What you'll find as you go down this road is that even though most manufacturing is automated, you still need people to observe, maintain, and repair the machines doing the work. You also need people to make the machines themselves. If you PM me and tell me where you live I can point you toward any companies I know of in the area.

Also, would like to ditto researcher1's skilled trades suggestion.

If a physical trade isn't for him. He might also consider working administration for any kind of office in the area. These jobs typically still go to women but his leg-up is that while women in these positions are typically seen as support only, men tend to be treated as potential future leaders (speaking generally, not always. Yes, I hate it but that's no reason for him not to use the general attitude to his advantage and think of himself in that way too). Becomes a great way to learn about a broad range of business aspects as a fly on the wall and he could eventually decide that one of those aspects is of particular interest to him and move into that role. Plus if he decides that a particular company isn't for him, the skills are broad and easily transferrable. All he needs here are organization and computer skills. (Some companies think that they need admins with college degrees. These companies are stupid. He should avoid them anyway.)

More general advice: He could ask himself what he might want to do if he could do anything and money was no object. Now, whatever that answer is, start looking at support jobs that surround it. The stuff that's invisible until you start looking for it. If his dream was to be an actor, he should start staring at the end credits to movies and start researching the shit out of every role listed (wth is a "key grip" anyway?). If the answer is "doctor", then brainstorm every other thing that needs to happen in a hospital or clinic to make the doctor's job possible (Ex: a friend of mine is getting a cert in hospital custodial functions. After talking to her about it I realized that that is something that's SO IMPORTANT but that nobody ever thinks about.) Initially he can do this with an eye out for whatever role will be easiest for him to fill, but once he's got his foot in the door he wants to look for the jobs that underserved and in-demand.

Crap... didn't mean to write a novel. It's just that I am among those that are so frustrated that so many young people are told to "go to college and follow your dreams" as if one automatically leads to the other and no other explanation is necessary.

And I'm sure that a million other people will link these and that you've seen them before but here's MMM's suggestions on just this subject:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/25/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-1/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/08/05/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-2/

Allison

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #6 on: November 28, 2016, 10:46:53 AM »
Truck driving(paid training), drafter(two year degree at tech school) or diesel mechanic....all high demand jobs with low educational requirements.

mm1970

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #7 on: November 28, 2016, 10:58:49 AM »
Most of my family members are blue-collar workers, or skilled trades.

Plumbing
Electrical
Auto mechanic
Diesel truck mechanic
Truck driver (short or long haul)
Facilities maintenance/ management
Equipment engineering (most of these guys got into this after a stint in the military - Navy or Air Force, generally)
Prison guard

Making Cookies

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2016, 11:15:12 AM »
Thank you all! Some real gems of suggestions here.

I'm always a bit wary of suggesting chasing a job in an area likely to be automated in the next ten years. I used to be an engineer at a company that did automation design and manufacture of systems. Liked the work, didn't like the company. Left for greener pastures and found a better job.

Looks to me that anything with a steering wheel has an uncertain future. Self-driving seems to be coming faster than flying cars anyhow. ;)

Will use what has been suggested and have a conversation with DW and him later this week. We don't require any promises now, just want to start his brain considering and planning a little.

Please keep any suggestions coming.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2016, 11:28:29 AM by Joe Lucky »

Drifterrider

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2016, 11:28:12 AM »
College is always an option.  It isn't always the right path.

I would have teenager sit down and plan a budget.  A real budget.  How much will it take him to live like he wants to (self supporting).  How much does he make?  How far will it go.  A harsh dose of reality.

Find a decent rental place to live.  How much per month.
Car.  How much per month/add insurance/gas/tires/etc
Utilities.  TV/phone/internet?
Clothing.
Food.
Savings
and these are just the basics.  Were your teenager mine, I'd try to show him how much it cost to have a comfortable level of "stuff", then help him decide how he is going to obtain that.

Bear in mind, I had my first passbook savings account (for those that remember that) at 7.  Checking account at 14.  This was BIG in 1977 when I was 14.

Not everyone should go to college but everyone should learn how hard it is to make a living on minimum wage.  Once teenagers really understand $1,000 a month is NOT a lot of money, (as most of them have had everything provided) they will start to understand to look for ways to make a better living.


GuitarStv

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #10 on: November 28, 2016, 11:34:31 AM »
+1 to all the responses of 'skilled trades'.  That's the best route in my opinion.

Making Cookies

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #11 on: November 28, 2016, 11:38:30 AM »
Part of our parental frustration is that we have the ability to send our teen to a state university and help him enough that he could graduate without debt.

Wife got the same privileged from her parents. I used a combination of the GI Bill and job(s) to fund life during college. Marriage, babies, home came along and slowed my college career to part time and it took forever. I wouldn't change a thing with a time machine except the time it took to graduate.

The fun part of parenting: trying to coach your offspring to not make the same less than optimum choices.

We turned out fine but reaching our goals took longer than it should have. Opportunity costs.

MrsDinero

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #12 on: November 28, 2016, 11:50:59 AM »
College is always an option.  It isn't always the right path.

+1

Perfect!  I'm one of the ones who didn't go to college and ended up with a 6-figure career in IT.

My parents set out expectations for my siblings and I pretty early on.  Our choices were:
- Go to college full time and live at home
- Get a full time job and live at home (they didn't care if it was picking up trash but it had to be 40 hours a week)
- Go to school part-time, work part-time, and live at home
- Join the military
- Leave home and figure it out ourselves

It probably sounds pretty harsh but they were willing to help us as long as we were helping ourselves.  My parents were of the tough love variety, although they've mellowed in their old age.

I opted for the military, left home at 17 and loved every hard lesson that came my way.  One thing I remember one of my military officers saying to me "if you want to be successful, then everything is in your job description".  I took that to heart, volunteered for all the tasks no one wanted (gained valuable experience), and developed a solid work ethic and drive to succeed. 

I had to learn the financial stuff on my own because that wasn't something my parents talked about with us.   There were times I also had to work multiple jobs at once to just pay the bills.

While I don't regret not going to college, because it just wasn't for me, I have gotten turned down for several jobs because I don't have a degree.  I had to be smarter and work harder to gain the experience that would cancel out not having a degree.

GuitarStv

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #13 on: November 28, 2016, 01:49:12 PM »
College is always an option.  It isn't always the right path.

+1

Perfect!  I'm one of the ones who didn't go to college and ended up with a 6-figure career in IT.

My parents set out expectations for my siblings and I pretty early on.  Our choices were:
- Go to college full time and live at home
- Get a full time job and live at home (they didn't care if it was picking up trash but it had to be 40 hours a week)
- Go to school part-time, work part-time, and live at home
- Join the military
- Leave home and figure it out ourselves

It probably sounds pretty harsh but they were willing to help us as long as we were helping ourselves.  My parents were of the tough love variety, although they've mellowed in their old age.

I opted for the military, left home at 17 and loved every hard lesson that came my way.  One thing I remember one of my military officers saying to me "if you want to be successful, then everything is in your job description".  I took that to heart, volunteered for all the tasks no one wanted (gained valuable experience), and developed a solid work ethic and drive to succeed. 

I had to learn the financial stuff on my own because that wasn't something my parents talked about with us.   There were times I also had to work multiple jobs at once to just pay the bills.

While I don't regret not going to college, because it just wasn't for me, I have gotten turned down for several jobs because I don't have a degree.  I had to be smarter and work harder to gain the experience that would cancel out not having a degree.

Can I ask how old you are?

It's just because I've heard several people mention that they got jobs in a computer related field without any education/degree in that field . . . but none of them were under 40.  I'm wondering if this is still a viable option.  Not having a degree and landing a job doing software development (for example) is not too common in this day and age.

Uturn

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #14 on: November 28, 2016, 02:07:53 PM »
If I had gone to college right out of high school, it would have been a colossal waste of money.  I just wasn't ready to be an adult.  My folks really didn't push me in any direction, they figured I would find my way.  However, they did make sure that I understood that starting the day after HS graduation, I was an adult and will pay my way.  They said that I could buy my own food, or contribute to the family grocery budget.  I was also expected to pay rent, although the price quoted was below market. 

I left for Navy boot camp one month past graduation.  I wanted to see what was outside of the small TX town where I was.  I wanted to learn different things and choose a path after I had some life experience.  I think that I've done pretty good, and never got a degree, but I'm damned educated. 

There are far more paths for your kid than college or dead-end job.  Why force a kid to make major life decisions when he is least qualified to make them?  Some kids just need more life experience before choosing their path.  If you have done your job as parents well, then he already has work ethic and is learning self-sufficiency.  Those two things can take him farther than any degree. 

MikeMoeJackB

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #15 on: November 28, 2016, 02:11:15 PM »

The problem is academics are just not interesting to him and all of his friends are making plans for college and beyond. Not our teenager. I fear he plans to just keep on living at home doing the same things he is doing now - being a kid.

His current status: mediocre grades, disinterest in everything academic. They arenít challenging him b/c his grades have led to placement in classes for the students not likely going to college. The honors classes donít offer much hope either. He isnít going to do the work so whatís the point?


Wow, this sounds exactly like myself when I was a junior.  That being said, I'll approach this from the my perspective of "if I only knew then..."

First and foremost, the fact that your kid is a hard worker and is recognized as such should really be applauded and heavily emphasized when providing parental advice.  There's so many kids his age that truly do not understand working hard and throughout my life this has been what has differentiated the successful people from the struggling folks.  Education and societal standing also plays huge factors into success, but thats all relative anyway and it sounds like the dude just wants to enjoy and experience life.  So, imho opinion, hard work paired with financial literacy, responsible spending and investing in yourself will allow him to go very far.  The latter is what I did not understand at his age and I'm worse off because of it, despite having a well paying job, etc.

After that, I know I would encourage him to chase entrepreneurship even though I hated the idea of going into business at that age.  I don't know if he is computer saavy but learning coding skills and other electrical/computer engineering skills are highly sought after.  Yeah sure, most people go to college for that but you could use some parental reverse psychology by introducing him to rebels that quit school and started tech start ups.  That may be enough motivation.  Either way, entrepreneurship and start ups having a lot of upside.  A lot do fail but then many employers look at that as a badge of honor these days.  Hope this helps. 


RoostKing

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #16 on: November 28, 2016, 02:20:16 PM »
College is always an option.  It isn't always the right path.

+1

Perfect!  I'm one of the ones who didn't go to college and ended up with a 6-figure career in IT.

My parents set out expectations for my siblings and I pretty early on.  Our choices were:
- Go to college full time and live at home
- Get a full time job and live at home (they didn't care if it was picking up trash but it had to be 40 hours a week)
- Go to school part-time, work part-time, and live at home
- Join the military
- Leave home and figure it out ourselves

It probably sounds pretty harsh but they were willing to help us as long as we were helping ourselves.  My parents were of the tough love variety, although they've mellowed in their old age.

I opted for the military, left home at 17 and loved every hard lesson that came my way.  One thing I remember one of my military officers saying to me "if you want to be successful, then everything is in your job description".  I took that to heart, volunteered for all the tasks no one wanted (gained valuable experience), and developed a solid work ethic and drive to succeed. 

I had to learn the financial stuff on my own because that wasn't something my parents talked about with us.   There were times I also had to work multiple jobs at once to just pay the bills.

While I don't regret not going to college, because it just wasn't for me, I have gotten turned down for several jobs because I don't have a degree.  I had to be smarter and work harder to gain the experience that would cancel out not having a degree.

Can I ask how old you are?

It's just because I've heard several people mention that they got jobs in a computer related field without any education/degree in that field . . . but none of them were under 40.  I'm wondering if this is still a viable option.  Not having a degree and landing a job doing software development (for example) is not too common in this day and age.

It is. Information Technology is a huge field with many well paying jobs. If he has an interest in computers, see if he will study for and get certified in the COMP TIA A+ certification. This is taken from their website:"IT success stories start with CompTIA A+ certification. It validates understanding of the most common hardware and software technologies in business and certifies the skills necessary to support complex IT infrastructures. CompTIA A+ is a powerful credential that helps IT professionals worldwide ignite their IT career."

Basically, its a primer in I.T. which can help him get a desktop support or repair job and then he can explore the I.T. field from there.

As for me, I could not afford, not was I ready for college so I joined the United States Marine Corps a few years out of high school and it was BY FAR the best move I ever made. I am reaping benefits to this day from that decision 24 years ago(I only served 4 years, 1992 - 1996) Once I got out, I was ready for school and started at a community college. I was going for school for "IT work, system administration". While in school I got hired full time to do some work that was computer related, but not really I.T. I graduated with a 2 year degree and realized I didnt need any more schooling in the traditional sense. In reality, I didnt even need the school, I could have just taken some boot camps for certification and then learned on the job.

One thing I would tell your son if I had the chance, is to not regret it. I was 22 and basically told myself : "If I dont join the military, will I ever ask myself if I regretted that decision" That pushed me over the line to join and I have probably ran into at least 10 people through the years who tell me they regret not joining.

MrsDinero

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #17 on: November 28, 2016, 02:22:57 PM »
College is always an option.  It isn't always the right path.

+1

Perfect!  I'm one of the ones who didn't go to college and ended up with a 6-figure career in IT.

My parents set out expectations for my siblings and I pretty early on.  Our choices were:
- Go to college full time and live at home
- Get a full time job and live at home (they didn't care if it was picking up trash but it had to be 40 hours a week)
- Go to school part-time, work part-time, and live at home
- Join the military
- Leave home and figure it out ourselves

It probably sounds pretty harsh but they were willing to help us as long as we were helping ourselves.  My parents were of the tough love variety, although they've mellowed in their old age.

I opted for the military, left home at 17 and loved every hard lesson that came my way.  One thing I remember one of my military officers saying to me "if you want to be successful, then everything is in your job description".  I took that to heart, volunteered for all the tasks no one wanted (gained valuable experience), and developed a solid work ethic and drive to succeed. 

I had to learn the financial stuff on my own because that wasn't something my parents talked about with us.   There were times I also had to work multiple jobs at once to just pay the bills.

While I don't regret not going to college, because it just wasn't for me, I have gotten turned down for several jobs because I don't have a degree.  I had to be smarter and work harder to gain the experience that would cancel out not having a degree.

Can I ask how old you are?

It's just because I've heard several people mention that they got jobs in a computer related field without any education/degree in that field . . . but none of them were under 40.  I'm wondering if this is still a viable option.  Not having a degree and landing a job doing software development (for example) is not too common in this day and age.

I just turned 40.

There is a lot more to IT than being software development.  I think some of the expectation is that people are going into IT and starting out at the top and immediately make 6 figures. That is completely unrealistic, however I think there is more room for advancement for those without a degree as long as you work hard.

There are a lot of helpdesk jobs that only require a HS diploma.  My last company liked to promote from within.   I worked on a team with all (3 other) senior people.  There were 2 other levels below us.  One of our "jobs" was to keep track of which helpdesk people showed potential.  We would then mentor that person to move up to a level 2 position in one of the IT depts. 

My current company does this too, although I don't mentor anymore.

Obviously not everyone gets the chance.  If someone comes in and does just the basic job we are not going to pick them.  The person that gets that chance is the one constantly asking questions, watching videos, trying to figure things out, and RTFM.


use2betrix

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #18 on: November 28, 2016, 02:43:25 PM »
I'm sorry if it has been asked/answered already, but what is he interested in? What does he seem like he wants to do? Maybe he would like sales.. trades.. etc?

I am 28 and have been incredibly successful in the field, but it is absolutely not for everyone, and still needs some schooling/training.

Spitfire

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #19 on: November 28, 2016, 02:57:37 PM »
Firefighter could be a good option for him if he's interested.

startingsmall

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #20 on: November 28, 2016, 03:27:14 PM »
Over Thanksgiving break, I had an interesting chat with my dad. He manages a car dealership (carrying several major brands) in a coastal, retiree-heavy town in Florida. Apparently he is completely unable to find enough individuals to fill salesman or service tech roles. He wishes more young folks would go into auto tech roles, because apparently its a great way to make money. He says they'll hire kids off the street at approximately $12/hr as a trainee, pay for all of their training, and most are making close to $50k after a few years. He said that he has several longtime techs who make over $100k/yr, just working 5 days/wk.

Some of that may be market-specific, but definitely worth looking into!

mskyle

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2016, 03:46:14 PM »
I know several people without bachelors' degrees who have gotten jobs in web development (like, Rails work, not pure front-end HTML or WordPress or something) in the past five years. (I think all of them did have at least a year or two of college, FWIW, and most of them went through bootcamps or something similar.) It's definitely still possible to get a job in IT or software development without a college degree. You don't have as many options (some places require a CS degree, some just require any kind of bachelors' degree), and you will likely get paid less than someone with a college degree for the same work, but you can make a living doing it.

Maybe at some point your son will feel like it's worth it to get a degree, even if he doesn't feel that way now. For some people college is fun, but for a lot of people it's just more work that has to be done to open up some other opportunity. You don't have to love academics to get a bachelor's degree, you just have to show up and do the work, which is true of a lot of other kinds of work people have to do. I think it can be way more efficient to go to college after a few years of working. I have a BS that I got in a traditional 4-year college kind of way and a masters degree that I got after a few years in the working world that I took part time while working two jobs. I sure dicked around a lot less during the masters degree!

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #22 on: November 28, 2016, 03:48:59 PM »
College is always an option.  It isn't always the right path.

+1

Perfect!  I'm one of the ones who didn't go to college and ended up with a 6-figure career in IT.

My parents set out expectations for my siblings and I pretty early on.  Our choices were:
- Go to college full time and live at home
- Get a full time job and live at home (they didn't care if it was picking up trash but it had to be 40 hours a week)
- Go to school part-time, work part-time, and live at home
- Join the military
- Leave home and figure it out ourselves

It probably sounds pretty harsh but they were willing to help us as long as we were helping ourselves.  My parents were of the tough love variety, although they've mellowed in their old age.

I opted for the military, left home at 17 and loved every hard lesson that came my way.  One thing I remember one of my military officers saying to me "if you want to be successful, then everything is in your job description".  I took that to heart, volunteered for all the tasks no one wanted (gained valuable experience), and developed a solid work ethic and drive to succeed. 

I had to learn the financial stuff on my own because that wasn't something my parents talked about with us.   There were times I also had to work multiple jobs at once to just pay the bills.

While I don't regret not going to college, because it just wasn't for me, I have gotten turned down for several jobs because I don't have a degree.  I had to be smarter and work harder to gain the experience that would cancel out not having a degree.

Can I ask how old you are?

It's just because I've heard several people mention that they got jobs in a computer related field without any education/degree in that field . . . but none of them were under 40.  I'm wondering if this is still a viable option.  Not having a degree and landing a job doing software development (for example) is not too common in this day and age.

I just turned 40.

There is a lot more to IT than being software development.  I think some of the expectation is that people are going into IT and starting out at the top and immediately make 6 figures. That is completely unrealistic, however I think there is more room for advancement for those without a degree as long as you work hard.

There are a lot of helpdesk jobs that only require a HS diploma.  My last company liked to promote from within.   I worked on a team with all (3 other) senior people.  There were 2 other levels below us.  One of our "jobs" was to keep track of which helpdesk people showed potential.  We would then mentor that person to move up to a level 2 position in one of the IT depts. 

My current company does this too, although I don't mentor anymore.

Obviously not everyone gets the chance.  If someone comes in and does just the basic job we are not going to pick them.  The person that gets that chance is the one constantly asking questions, watching videos, trying to figure things out, and RTFM.
Just to chime in here, I'm 25 and also working in IT (no degree).  My manager (two man IT department; he's the other guy) also has no degree.  It can still be done.  The bolded part is very true.  This isn't a sit-and-coast kind of job (even if it looks that way); you need to be able to figure shit out when shit breaks.  And shit always breaks.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #23 on: November 29, 2016, 05:41:14 AM »
College is always an option.  It isn't always the right path.

+1

Perfect!  I'm one of the ones who didn't go to college and ended up with a 6-figure career in IT.

My parents set out expectations for my siblings and I pretty early on.  Our choices were:
- Go to college full time and live at home
- Get a full time job and live at home (they didn't care if it was picking up trash but it had to be 40 hours a week)
- Go to school part-time, work part-time, and live at home
- Join the military
- Leave home and figure it out ourselves

It probably sounds pretty harsh but they were willing to help us as long as we were helping ourselves.  My parents were of the tough love variety, although they've mellowed in their old age.

I opted for the military, left home at 17 and loved every hard lesson that came my way.  One thing I remember one of my military officers saying to me "if you want to be successful, then everything is in your job description".  I took that to heart, volunteered for all the tasks no one wanted (gained valuable experience), and developed a solid work ethic and drive to succeed. 

I had to learn the financial stuff on my own because that wasn't something my parents talked about with us.   There were times I also had to work multiple jobs at once to just pay the bills.

While I don't regret not going to college, because it just wasn't for me, I have gotten turned down for several jobs because I don't have a degree.  I had to be smarter and work harder to gain the experience that would cancel out not having a degree.

Nope.  Sounds like good parenting to me.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #24 on: November 29, 2016, 09:54:15 AM »
So, I actually identify quite strongly with your son. He was essentially me back in high school. I got very average grades, primarily because I hated classwork, and would rather hang out with friends. After graduation, I got a job, and tried to start a band for about a year, couch surfing around Oregon while I tried to start a band/land gigs. Finally, on a whim, I ended up walking into a recruiter's office. This was quite possibly the best decision I have ever made. Assuming he gets a good score on the ASVAB, and a high GT score, which I am sure he will, he will be eligible for all sorts of jobs, many of which open a wealth of possible future career options. I have no formal education, and due to joining the Army, at 24 I have a net worth just over 100k (Granted, due to finding MMM three years ago,) no debt, a paid off car, multiple certifications, free health care, access to the best low cost retirement plan in the world, (TSP) and a pension after 20 years. I am fluent in Russian, as the Army paid me to learn that language in an immersive setting for a year and a half, and then proceeded to spend another six months or so training me as an Analyst. I then spent the next three and a half years working attached to a 3 letter agency, with other services and civilians. I am now pending orders for the White House, to work there for a bit. I have multiple job offers, and some are very tempting.

I am not cut out for college, I have no interest in having to take courses that I am not interested in (core prereq's, ect.) However, I am educated, I love leading people, teaching my soldiers what I know, and exploring the world. There are so many opportunities in the military that people don't know about, it isn't just a bunch of roughnecks running around breaking things.. (Though there is plenty of that too.)

There are jobs in IT, cyber, plumbing/electrical/hvac, linguistics, and a myriad of other fields that companies pluck people from after their first enlistment. Think of it as less of a service, and more of a paid gig (decently paid) that trains people into skilled and experienced professionals.

And, well, you know, blowing things up every now and again is also a perk. Much of the pay is also not taxable, once you get to a certain rank/come in married. With all my allowances/base pay/special duty pay, I make about $65k, just over half of which is taxable.

Could I likely get a better paying job? Sure, but I love what I do, and the military has provided me with so much free training, travel, and opportunity, I can't recommend it enough to young people, especially those that are unsure of what to do, with the caveat that they are particular about what field they go in.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #25 on: November 29, 2016, 10:32:13 AM »
He had another successful summer at the same job for second summer where he was the last guy standing - he was their "star employee" always on time and doing a good job. Everyone else was fired for goofing off or not coming to work b/c summer was more important. Our teen is careful with his money.
Competent, hard-working people are required in EVERY industry.  Considering your quoted statement above I think he is far ahead of what any college degree will teach him. 

FWIW, both DH and I have university degrees, but I plan on very cautiously encouraging this path to our children.  DH spent 5.5 years getting his degree, and has never used this knowledge (I know some people argue there is no such thing as useless degree, but trust me, it was useless).  DH is not the academic type, and he literally wasted this time and money, when he could have been earning money.  The end result is he has a well-paying, but long hours job in sales.  There are many types of intelligence, and he is able to capitalize on his people smarts.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #26 on: November 29, 2016, 02:31:28 PM »
OP, does your school district have any sort of BOCES or vo-tech programs in the HS?  My kids couldn't take any BOCES classes due to scheduling conflicts (they were heavily involved in the music program), and often wished they could try out some of the tech side.  Allied Health,  carpentry, computer tech, cosmetology, culinary are just some of the fields they teach.

What about volunteer opportunities to try things out?  My DH joined a volunteer fire company; he got free training as an EMT.  They have junior FF members that are teens.

Any internship opportunities?  That can give your son an inside look at working in a field, and could lead to a long term position if it's a good fit.  It could also pique son's motivation to get a degree, if it leads to a really cool job, or the employer pays for it.

Another boost for the military.  DD1 finished college, but decided she really didn't know what she wanted to pursue.  We gave her a few months grace at home, but let her know  she needed to pay rent starting X date.  While searching job websites she stumbled across just what she wanted to do - Cryptology for the Navy.  We were flabbergasted - military was so out of character for her.  She loves it.  Doesn't hurt that she's based in HI, and gets to travel around for immersion study.  She's tried to convince the other kids to try military as well (DS2 considered ROTC as he was already in college, but it conflicted with his major classes).

nexus

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #27 on: November 29, 2016, 03:15:06 PM »
26 now, so I remember my high school years somewhat clearly still. I can honestly say I didn't really give much thought about college until my senior year. In my mind, I knew I was going to go, but beyond that I didn't look very far into the future. I wanted to play college tennis (didn't happen, but I went anyway). My grades were okay. A's and B's. Had one or two AP classes, but my classmates really said grades didn't matter as much until senior year. I stepped it up senior year. I even wrote a book for my senior project. Sounds like I was probably more ambitious than your son when I was his age, but give him a chance especially if college is the norm. Not sure how individualistic he is, but I bet you that he will want to keep up with his friends.

Other (cruel) tactics that would have scared/motivated my teenage self:
-Ask him if he understands what going to college actually means. (make a million dollars less over a lifetime, poorer health, more stress, less stability). B!tch slap him with some reality. Does he want or have a car? Insurance? Gas? New rims? (no idea what teenagers like/do honestly). Brand name clothes? Going to the movies with his girlfriend? Sorry bud, its going to take you 4 or 5 hours of work to afford to take your girl on a date for two hours of fun. You've got a cell phone to pay, car insurance, other bills. How many hours of work would it take him to cover the rent on a basic 1 bedroom apartment at minimum wage?
- Plant the seed that his girlfriend will go off to college and meet someone else. A better match with more potential. He should at least apply to her school and go so they can work and study as a team if he is serious about her. I shared books and carpooled with my girlfriend at the time at every chance that it made sense. Saved a ton of money that way when we had overlapping classes and schedules, especially for general education.
- Have a serious talk with him. What does he want out of life? A home? Kids?  independence? Show him your bills, your expenses. Some general idea of your income. Tell him it isn't possible without a college degree unless you work 2 jobs 7 days a week. (no time for girlfriend if that's the case). Show him what low income housing and neighborhoods look like!
- Force him to go. He has to go to college if he wants to live at home after he turns 18. You are his parents. You provide for him, therefore he must obey! If not, he can be a big boy and figure out how to live on his own with only a high school education. You won't be around forever to support him. Don't tell him about your stash! :p

Please don't take what I'm saying too seriously. It is very obvious that you love and care about your son and I hope you are able to find an awesome compromise. Don't be afraid to fight dirty though. It is for his own good!

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #28 on: November 29, 2016, 03:27:29 PM »
It is not necessarily a choice of either/or. Three examples from my family:
A. Didn't finish highschool, chose to be a fisherman instead. After a few years of very hard work and good money, he went back to school and got a PhD in marine biology
B. Finished highschool and learned to service boat engines. Worked on boats for a few years, went back and got his captain's certificate, went back to sea for more money, went back to school and became an engineer, worked in different industries around the world.
C. Barely made it through highschool, got a job building boat engines, got some education that fitted that job, worked some more, started working on trucks instead, moved to the sales department, got a degree in management and stuff, and moved up in the company.
D. Not sure if he finished high school or not. Made very good money travelling Europe selling agricultural machinery. Got a farm, and is a hobby farmer who travels much less, but still makes a nice income from sales. I think he also does some repairs. 

My oldest daughter will probably do the academic route, her wish now is to work in some sort of STEM research. But I am encouraging her to take a turn via the electrician's school. I have no idea what the future will bring, but as it looks now there is a high probability that it there will be a demand for energy, and that much of that energy will be moved in the form of electrons. Wires, inductions, something brand new? Certainly more will be automated, but there will always be a demand for people that understand the processes and technical stuff. In fact, I'm considering getting a year or two of that myself.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2016, 04:27:00 PM »
[

Other (cruel) tactics that would have scared/motivated my teenage self:
-Ask him if he understands what going to college actually means. (make a million dollars less over a lifetime, poorer health, more stress, less stability). B!tch slap him with some reality. Does he want or have a car? Insurance? Gas? New rims? (no idea what teenagers like/do honestly). Brand name clothes? Going to the movies with his girlfriend? Sorry bud, its going to take you 4 or 5 hours of work to afford to take your girl on a date for two hours of fun. You've got a cell phone to pay, car insurance, other bills. How many hours of work would it take him to cover the rent on a basic 1 bedroom apartment at minimum wage?
- Plant the seed that his girlfriend will go off to college and meet someone else. A better match with more potential. He should at least apply to her school and go so they can work and study as a team if he is serious about her. I shared books and carpooled with my girlfriend at the time at every chance that it made sense. Saved a ton of money that way when we had overlapping classes and schedules, especially for general education.
- Have a serious talk with him. What does he want out of life? A home? Kids?  independence? Show him your bills, your expenses. Some general idea of your income. Tell him it isn't possible without a college degree unless you work 2 jobs 7 days a week. (no time for girlfriend if that's the case). Show him what low income housing and neighborhoods look like!
- Force him to go. He has to go to college if he wants to live at home after he turns 18. You are his parents. You provide for him, therefore he must obey! If not, he can be a big boy and figure out how to live on his own with only a high school education. You won't be around forever to support him. Don't tell him about your stash! :p

Please don't take what I'm saying too seriously. It is very obvious that you love and care about your son and I hope you are able to find an awesome compromise. Don't be afraid to fight dirty though. It is for his own good!
[/quote]

There is no way I would waste my money sending a teen who does not want to go to college to go.  Also, the going to school with your girlfriend/boyfriend is pretty much off the table. You are going to learn- not to continue a romance.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #30 on: November 29, 2016, 05:23:00 PM »
Would taking a year and working at the Peace Corps be something that would interest him?

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #31 on: November 29, 2016, 05:28:48 PM »
Another +1 for skilled trades.  Lots of options, depending on what you are interested in.
There is a huge demand and you can make a very good living starting right out of high school, without spending huge $$ on college or tying up 4+ years.

Another good option is military service.

 

nexus

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #32 on: November 29, 2016, 05:30:08 PM »
There is no way I would waste my money sending a teen who does not want to go to college to go.  Also, the going to school with your girlfriend/boyfriend is pretty much off the table. You are going to learn- not to continue a romance.

Paid for my own way through college, so I did whatever the heck I wanted within reason. Still lived at home though, so obeyed house rules. I daresay teenagers brains aren't totally developed so who cares what motivates them to go as long as they go? Maybe they want to chase tail. Maybe they think it'll get them rich. They'll probably thank you for it later.

Some dumb arguments from me:
1. Your kid didn't want to go to the doctor/dentist but you forced them anyway and footed the bill because you knew it was good for them. You have the financial savvy (I assume this anyway because you're here) to know what a higher education means. The same principle applies. It isn't life/death but it is definitely a quality of life and circle of friends that you're forcing them towards.
1a. Braces, surgery, bug bite, vaccinations, fillings, whatever. You get the point.
2. Your kid cried when you first started taking them to school. You forced them to go anyway. Could have homeschooled them, but you relied on the system so you could continue working.
2a. The risk here is the fear of wasting money, I understand. Mitigate risk and start in a community college or part-time instead of jumping right into 4 year university and living away from home.

Maybe let them take a gap year to mature a little more before he goes to college. Graduating at 23 versus 22 isn't really a big deal.

Hiring managers look for experience & education. One begets the other. Most applications for large employers are run through an algorithm before a hiring manager ever sets eyes on it. Without some sort of university education you've automatically eliminated yourself from ever getting very far in the hiring process. I think OP's concern here is stable income and opportunities for his son. The fact is that in the current environment it is competitive and a college education is expected. Ever pay attention to that 'Highest Level of Education' drop down box? Select the wrong one and the other 45 minutes you spend filling out that profile is a total waste of time. It's still totally possible to work your way up in a company, no doubt. Costco and Trader Joe's are great examples of that kind of company culture.

There's a good chance that if OP followed my advice his son could fail. There's an equal chance that he wouldn't, especially with a loving and supportive family. Nothing wrong with scraping by as a C student in college. You walk the same stage on graduation day.

nexus

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #33 on: November 29, 2016, 05:30:55 PM »
Another +1 for skilled trades.  Lots of options, depending on what you are interested in.
There is a huge demand and you can make a very good living starting right out of high school, without spending huge $$ on college or tying up 4+ years.

Another good option is military service.

+1 for skilled trades, especially welding. :)

ender

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #34 on: November 29, 2016, 06:01:00 PM »
Truck driving(paid training), drafter(two year degree at tech school) or diesel mechanic....all high demand jobs with low educational requirements.

I'd stay away from the first two.

At that age, you want to find career paths which don't have a high likelihood of being automated/eliminated throughout your career. No one has a crystal ball but some are more likely than others. I can fairly easily see the former two disappearing over your teenager's working career.

There are many listed in this thread though which will likely not be gone anytime soon.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #35 on: November 29, 2016, 06:21:09 PM »
I'm of the opinion that you shouldn't push your son into anything. Tell him to think about what he wants to do after high school, and suggest to him that chances are he'll want to move out to live near his girlfriend, or he'll want to do something else and that money/savings is important for him to have that open to him. Remind him that community college/trades are an option for him with a wide variety of career options - but I don't think you should suggest what career to choose.

Oh sure, he can go to community college and become a plumber - but is it really the end of the world if he moves out and works full time at McDonald's for five years until he decides he wants to become a plumber on his own?

If you're just itching to figure out what to do with his college fund, consider offering to match his Roth contributions.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #36 on: November 29, 2016, 06:38:28 PM »
Also, if your son is smart but does poorly in school, has he been tested for learning disabilities?  Sometimes dual diagnosis kids (gifted/ learning disabled) slip through the cracks. Could he have dyslexia, ADD, or some such?

And agree with others that college can always be done later and is no guarantee.  My oldest graduated from Berkeley with a fairly useless degree, and suffered debilitating depression and anxiety. He's working but way below his capabilities (Aspergers).  Second child has been in college forever due to leaving a pricey private college for state school which wouldn't accept most of his credits. He at least is on track now to graduate with a MSW, not the highest paying career but should have plenty of employment opportunities.

Third child is the most brilliant but quit after two years of community college to be a musician. Now trying to find his way to gainful employment, doesn't want to go back to college if he doesn't have any idea what he wants to do, Has anxiety issues and would LOVE to find work where someone would mentor him.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #37 on: November 29, 2016, 07:11:29 PM »
I went the skilled trades route. I am "smart" in some regards but just had a hard time focusing in school and applying myself. While not being above average smart by any means, I do feel that I excel in many other areas where others slide.. work ethic.. following thru problems.. attendance, etc.

This year, at 28, I made over 240k and am taking the last 6 weeks of the year off. I travel and do contract work on big industrial projects.

I did end up getting an associates degree part way through cause I had most the credits I needed. I don't really need it, though. I also went to a pretty nice tech school for 7 months.

Knowing what I know now, I think my route is quite possibly the best one could take for young people seeking ER. I just wish I would have got in the industry at 18 instead of 21, and also wish I knew financially what I know now. I could have a 750k net worth instead of 200k if I did things right. Live and learn, though. I'm still better off now than I would be with damn near any major I can think of.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #38 on: November 29, 2016, 07:14:28 PM »
My best friend's son sounds a lot like yours.  After several years of being a ski bum, he is becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse because he says male nurses are in great demand.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #39 on: November 29, 2016, 07:47:50 PM »
I went the skilled trades route. I am "smart" in some regards but just had a hard time focusing in school and applying myself. While not being above average smart by any means, I do feel that I excel in many other areas where others slide.. work ethic.. following thru problems.. attendance, etc.

This year, at 28, I made over 240k and am taking the last 6 weeks of the year off. I travel and do contract work on big industrial projects.

I did end up getting an associates degree part way through cause I had most the credits I needed. I don't really need it, though. I also went to a pretty nice tech school for 7 months.

Knowing what I know now, I think my route is quite possibly the best one could take for young people seeking ER. I just wish I would have got in the industry at 18 instead of 21, and also wish I knew financially what I know now. I could have a 750k net worth instead of 200k if I did things right. Live and learn, though. I'm still better off now than I would be with damn near any major I can think of.

I would love to know what trade you are in and what industry if you don't mind sharing.

use2betrix

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #40 on: November 29, 2016, 07:55:52 PM »
I went the skilled trades route. I am "smart" in some regards but just had a hard time focusing in school and applying myself. While not being above average smart by any means, I do feel that I excel in many other areas where others slide.. work ethic.. following thru problems.. attendance, etc.

This year, at 28, I made over 240k and am taking the last 6 weeks of the year off. I travel and do contract work on big industrial projects.

I did end up getting an associates degree part way through cause I had most the credits I needed. I don't really need it, though. I also went to a pretty nice tech school for 7 months.

Knowing what I know now, I think my route is quite possibly the best one could take for young people seeking ER. I just wish I would have got in the industry at 18 instead of 21, and also wish I knew financially what I know now. I could have a 750k net worth instead of 200k if I did things right. Live and learn, though. I'm still better off now than I would be with damn near any major I can think of.

I would love to know what trade you are in and what industry if you don't mind sharing.

Really a lot of paths to take and ways to move up in industrial construction. Civil, structural, mechanical, welding, painting, fitting, iron working, millwright, etc.

Can be oil field, chemical olants, refineries, nuclear plants, etc. maybe when I retire I'll write a book on exactly what I did with step by step directions lol.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #41 on: November 29, 2016, 11:59:26 PM »
Sounds like you have a terrific kid and young adult.

He is happy, people like to be around him, he knows how to work at a job and is concientious when working it.  He has a loving stable family and a support network.

With that behind him, it is highly unlikely that he will end up not succeeding at whatever he gets into.   Yes he may take a few extra years getting there, but he sounds responsible.  Charging a reasonable low rent to help him adult-up is a great start after graduation.   His taking a year to travel while working part time may be a good idea too.

I would lay off any concerns or stress that you have, and just be there to talk and help and keep his self confidence high.  Girlfriend moving away alone could have a hard hit on him.

I say this from a position knowing my best friend's 16 year old tried to commit suicide last month, and she seemed to have everything going for her...  IB program at school, likely to get a full ride scholarship, friends, no drugs, looking forward to graduating and getting out on her own...  then a sudden middle of the night emergency paramedic call changed their family forever.

Count your blessings and hold them dear.

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #42 on: November 30, 2016, 06:44:42 AM »
This sounds like my friend's boyfriend.  He wasn't into academics either, would've been bored with most colleges, but he's a great guy, responsible, good friend and father, etc.  Back when they were dating they moved to Wyoming and he went to Wyotech, a mechanical training college.  He learned upholstery for cars there.  He ended up working at a car place in his home town in Michigan (I don't think he did upholstery, but he got the job) and then when they moved back to California, he found work with Tesla.  Now he's a manager there and doing very well.

My advice is that you should encourage your son to pursue his interests and passions.  My uncle fooled around in high school but knuckled down in college because he wanted to be a pilot.  He graduated 3rd in his class in engineering, then became a pilot in the Air Force, worked for Nasa, later started and ran his own successful consulting businesses.  High school grades and interest do not always determine the economic or career success of a person's life.

Other options have already been mentioned - there's the trades - which are good because many of them you get paid to learn when you work as an apprentice.  There is also a college in the East I think for specialized artisan woodworking, masonry, etc. which is a rare skill these days and would set someone up for a decent career.  Programming is a great skill that he could learn on the cheap from online sources and courses.  If he's into video games he might be motivated to learn how to build them.




thedayisbrave

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #43 on: November 30, 2016, 07:59:35 AM »
The guy I'm dating doesn't have a college degree.

He's a chef.  What he lacks in formal education, he makes up for in work ethic.  He became an executive chef a few years ago at age 25 and has worked for a lot of big names.  He is confident (but not arrogant) and knows how to value himself.

I think some of the most important lessons in life involve work ethic and self-esteem.  Knowing how to ask for what you believe you deserve (and working your tail off for it, of course).  He's been able to move up largely because when he saw openings, he jumped at the opportunities and made himself known (ie when the former executive chef left he made it clear to his superiors he was fit for the role and they would save a lot of time/money by promoting from within rather than training someone new.. they saw it that way too and promoted him).

I wouldn't worry too much quite yet.  Does he have any passions, or hobbies? My brother wasn't very motivated in high school -- not because he wasn't smart, but neither of us have really been academics.  He got a part-time job senior year with a neighbor who owned a chemical manufacturing plant.  It was kind of random but he ended up LOVING it and is now getting his PhD in Chemistry (and got into Harvard and Yale, though he didn't end up going to either).  So I wouldn't lose faith quite yet :)

MrsPete

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #44 on: November 30, 2016, 08:33:28 AM »

I don't think the question is, What if college wasn't an option?  I think the question is, What if college weren't the best option at this point

He sounds like a solid 50% of my students, and boys are worse in this regard than girls.  What I'm hearing you say is that he's immature for his age.  Again, not uncommon.  It probably hasn't quite hit him yet that he's going to be responsible for himself in the future.  I mean, he knows that he wants a job, a home, a car, financial stability -- but he hasn't yet connected the dots to realize that today's efforts equal tomorrow's achievements.  Yeah, I know, to us adults that idea sounds quite stupid, but LOADS of teens experience this disconnect in their thinking. 

What to do? 

1.  Talk to him about his thoughts.  He may surprise you.
2.  Military.  It'll take him from boy to man, and -- even if he only stays a few years -- he will have some benefits for the rest of his life, including the GI bill to help pay for college.
3.  Job Corps, though that's kind of for low-level kids, and I don't hear you saying he's lacking academically -- just that he doesn't apply himself. 
4.  Work.  It's worked for a whole lot of other kids, my husband included.  He tells me he was much like your son in high school, yet after working at a backbreaking job for a year, he saw the light and decided that higher education was an excellent goal. 

What not to do? 

1.  Don't coddle him.  Don't allow him to live a comfortable lifestyle on your dime; that'll only extend this difficult period and convince him that he is able to live comfortably on a minimum wage type job.   
2.  Don't agree upon a gap year without a plan.  Just "a year off" won't help him, and if he were to buy a car/take on debt during that year, he could actually throw roadblocks in his own path to returning to school.  If he takes time off school, work out a plan for working towards a trade /skilled work, or agree upon a time frame in which this type of education will begin.  Without a plan, it's too easy for a gap year to turn into 5, 10, 20 gap years. 

Dicey

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Re: What would you do if college wasn't an option?
« Reply #45 on: November 30, 2016, 11:15:07 AM »
Would taking a year and working at the Peace Corps be something that would interest him?
Don't think the Peace Corps has much use for non-degreed individuals, unless they have specific skills or certifications.

Huge +1 to getting a job at Costco or Trader Joe's. Both places promote on merit and pay is above average. Pay is also tied to years of service, so it's a leg up if you start early. They are also chock full of non-degreed individuals that your son can learn from. Learning about other people's life paths in my first few jobs was a huge motivator for me.

One "trick" to getting in at Costco is to work in the Food Court. It's very demanding work, but admin is always watching for the best workers and moving them into warehouse positions. Best not to say that's your goal when applying. The right approach is to say you like to work in a fast-paced environment and want the chance to work hard and prove yourself.