A Facebook friend of mine shared a photo of a 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 YES, he needs to go to college to get a business degree because someday he might want to own his own woodworking business.

Unless her teen has a desire to own a business, I challenge the idea that he needs to go to college right now. The skills and traits necessary for a wood crafter and running a business are very different. He can go to a typical four-year college to get a business degree, but there are other options to consider. Many schools have two-year entrepreneurial courses and certificate programs. Seeing how beautiful that table was, I have no doubt he could make a lot of money woodworking which could help fund a business degree in the future. If he goes to college now but isn’t really interested or motivated, his parents run the risk of him dropping out and being in debt. On average, the cost of going to carpentry school is about $17,000, although it can range from about $4,000 to a little over $30,000. (Source: careerigniter.com) That’s still a far cry from the $100,000+ needed to get a degree at a four-year college.

As parents, we should change our mindset that our children must go to college after high school. I grew up with that mindset. You graduate from high school, then your next step is college. If you didn’t, you were perceived as a failure. The perception of trade schools, 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 an increase in trade jobs in many categories including Transportation, Construction, Manufacturing, and Mining (see report).

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.

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

Is trade school the right choice for every teen? Of course not. But as parents, we should steer our kids towards jobs they will naturally like to do, not towards what we think they should do.

Our goal should be to help our teens identify the careers they will enjoy and thrive in. Schedule a complimentary strategy session with me if you would like some guidance with getting your teen on the right path to success.