College is not always the best option for child. Learn how to explore other options.

What To Do When Your Child Isn’t “College Material”

College is not always the best option for child. Learn how to explore other options.

I am in a Facebook group for my local school district. Parents and teachers post items ranging from promoting school events to asking various questions. While most posts get a good number of comments and likes, there was one that got the most I have ever seen – a total of 178 comments so far and still growing. Here is what the mom posted:

“My child has no academic desire. I realize school isn’t their “thing.” What are trades do your kids do? Where do they work? Are they happy?”

This mom is not alone as seen by the many comments written for the post. Her questions are ones that many parents have. Just because your child isn’t “made for college” does not mean they won’t have a happy, fulfilling career. They are good, well-mannered kids who have a different path.

There are kids who go to college because it’s what we expect, then realize maybe they didn’t pick the right path. This is why 30% of kids change their major in the first three years of college and why 40% go to  college for 6 years and don’t even earn a college degree.

I understand why many of us have the mentality that our kids must go to college. That was what was expected when I was growing up. The pathis you go college right after high school. However, times have changed:

  • For some kids going to college is right for them
  • There are also many trade jobs that need to be filled and pay good money
  • There are teenage entrepreneurs who already run a successful business

The point is there are many options. We all have our unique path. It’s no longer the mentality of you must go to college after high school. My son is talking about taking a gap year. This concept of a gap year was unheard of in my teenage years. If you search the internet, you will find many successful people who never graduated from college – Ellen DeGeneres, TedTurner, Mary Kay Ash, Jay Z, and yes, even Steve Jobs. Click herefor a list of 100 successful people without college degrees.

What I loved about the Facebook post is that the momrealized that they needed to create a plan: if not college then what? Benjamin Franklin said

“Failing to plan, is planning to fail.”

This is very true when it comes to your child’s future. It’s our responsibility as parents to help our kids find their path. If we don’t help them plan, they will float through life trying to find their “passion.” Some may say that is just a part of life. But this could also mean that your child is still living at home at age 30 with college debt. I think many parents do not want this for their child or themselves.

Here are some steps to help your child plan:

  • Take a career assessment – This is a fast-pass way to help your child narrow their choices. There many free ones out there. Most importantly, make sure you use one that can accurately match your child to the careers that are the best fit for their natural traits, tendencies, and preferences – like the one I use. You can click here to see sample reports.
  • Write out action steps – once you narrow down the career choices, write action steps to move them towards a specific path. Steps may include talk to people in the career, find out the job outlook for that career, identify the education path for that careers, etc.

You can check out my other blogs about different options – Why Trade School is a Viable Option For Your Child and Tips for Avoiding the Costly Effects of Changing Majors.

As a parent, I know that sometimes our kids have a difficult time listening to us. That is one reason why many parents come to me for help. Kids will listen to advice better from someone else than their own parent. Even if it’s the exact same advice. Click here to schedule a strategy session with me. We can talk about your challenges in how to help your child plan their “ideal college.”

Trade schools are a viable option and should be considered

Why Trade School Is A Viable Option For Your Child

trade school

A mom on posted on Facebook this beautiful wood carved table that her high school son had crafted. She asked, “Should I be sending my son to college when he can make items like this?” Many commented that yes, he needs to go to college and get a business degree because someday he might want to own his own woodworking business.

Unless the child has a desire to own a business, I challenge that he needs to go to college right now. The skills and traits needed between being a wood crafter and running a business are very different. He can always decide to go to a typical four-year college to get a business degree. There are other options to consider. Many schools have 2-year entrepreneurial courses, certificates, etc.  Seeing how beautiful that table was, I have no doubt he could make a lot of money woodworking that could help fund a business degree in the future. If he goes to college now but isn’t really interested or motivated, you run the risk of him dropping out and potentially being in debt. The average cost of going to a trade school to learn carpentry is $17,000.  It could be as high as $30,000 (see Career Igniter).  That’s still a far cry from the over $100,000 to get a degree at a four-year college.

We need to change our mindset as parents that after high-school our child must go to college. I grew up with that mindset. You go to high school, then your next step is to go to college. If you didn’t, you were perceived as a failure. The perception of a trade school, which are now called technical schools, has been that they didn’t prepare you for a well-paying career. But times have changed. There’s a growing demand for a skilled trades workforce that’s projected to continue. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed last month an increase in trade jobs in many categories including Transportation, Construction, Manufacturing, and Mining (see report)

One of my clients knew her child was not suited for a traditional college education. She was concerned about what the future held for him. In working with him, we found several high-paying trade jobs that we knew he would enjoy based on the traits needed for the roles and what he naturally likes to do. We found jobs that would pay in the $70,000 – $80,000 range very quickly after going to a trade school and getting a technical degree. We were able to create a path for him that he felt great about.

There was an article in CNBC recently stating that the aviation industry is need desperate need of mechanics as they will have many workers retiring. Click here for article. A young mechanic could quickly make $72,000 a year. In some trade jobs you could earn even more. Here are a few taken from

  • Flight Inspector $84,000 a year
  • Head of Housekeeping $85,000 a year
  • Power Scheduler – $96,000 a year
  • Machine Operator Supervisor – $75,000

Now I am not saying that every child should go to trade school. My point is that we should steer our kids towards jobs they will naturally like to do, not towards what we think they should do.

Research shows that if your job contains at least 75% of what you naturally like to do, then you will be three times more successful.

As parents, we need to help our kids find those careers. We will better equip them for success if we do. Schedule a call with me or email me at if you would like to discuss how to help your child find a career they will be successful in.

Trade Schools, Another Option

When it comes to picking a major in college, sometimes your child will feel overwhelmed. From picking a junior college or a university, which majors and minors and even what school they should attend, there are a lot of things to be thinking about. But there is one option that no one talks about enough: trade school.

Trade schools are where you can go to learn a technical skill for a specific job, such as computer science, business, car maintenance, electric technicians, hospitality and so much more. Plus, most trade schools have two-year programs to go through in order to receive a certification in the specific trade chosen.

Attending a trade school is often overlooked because most soon to be high school graduates have dreamt of attending a four-year university, along with their friends, enjoying college life and getting a degree. The downside to a university degree is that there is no guaranteed job after graduation. With a trade school, a job is almost always guaranteed because of the specific skill sets that a trade school offers. These skill sets are ones that will never go out of style; there will always be a need for a car mechanic when your car breaks down on the highway, a storm will always knock the power out somewhere and computers will continue to crash frequently with ever-changing code. All of these situations require a special person with special knowledge to help fix things that we break and that is where trade school comes in!

To help your child think about trade school, take them on a tour of your nearest location. Doing this can give you both the chance to see what classes are offered and the possibility to see work in progress during a school day. Also, discuss salaries of trade professions. Hourly rates for trade professions are typically higher than a salary job in other fields. And lastly, encourage your child just to keep an open mind to anything in any career area, not everyone needs a 4-year degree to earn a decent income.