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If Your Child Opts Out of College – What’s Next?

Helping your child find the right college is a great responsibility. Guiding a son or daughter who isn’t interested in a traditional college education or career is an even greater challenge.  There are, however, many avenues to a meaningful, relevant and successful future. A technical or vocational education offers numerous opportunities for your child to embrace a passion while learning the skills to command rewarding jobs. According to the Career College Association, programs are offered in more than 200 occupational fields ranging from automotive technology to visual and performing arts. As you and your child consider future options, ask the following questions: • Is a four-year college degree critical for a successful career? Not necessarily. The route to an advanced education, whether traditional or technical, should fit with your child’s career aspirations, skills and learning style. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates there are more than 50 million jobs that don’t require a college degree, but most of these jobs do require skills available from a technical school. • What does a technical school look like today? Most technical education programs last between six months and two years and should offer support services for housing, healthcare and part-time jobs. • Do technical schools offer financial aid? Fortunately, for those who qualify there are many available funding options that are designed to provide support for technical education, including federal financial aid, student loans, scholarships and grants. In addition, the UTI Foundation, a 501(c)(3) Arizona non-profit, supports technical education for the automotive, collision repair, diesel, motorcycle, marine and NASCAR industries through scholarships, grants, career development and other special programs to help alleviate financial challenges that impact a student’s ability to start school and finish technical training. • What can my child expect after graduation? Technical school graduates can earn comfortable incomes and good benefits. When helping your child select a school, look for those with high placement numbers, strong industry relationships and advanced training. • With today’s challenging economy, what is the technical career outlook? The U.S. Department of Labor outlook for technical careers remains strong as the long-term shift from goods-producing to service-providing employment is expected to continue. Many employers regard the successful completion of a vocational program as the best preparation for trainee positions. Service-providing industries are expected to generate approximately 14.5 million new wage and salary jobs over the 2008-2018 time period according to the Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010-11 Edition. There are many pathways to a child’s fulfilling and successful career. Helping them discover the right path now will make a significant impact on their future. Dianne Ely Campus President, Universal Technical Institute, Orlando, Fla.