When our family first began homeschooling, our thought was that each of our children would attend a four year college after their high school graduation to further their education. Struggles with some learning disabilities in one of our children brought us to further consider this initial assumption. The fundamental question is not what we want, but what God wants for each of our children. He promises us in His word that He has a plan and a future for each of us. As we watch our children grow and develop, their natural talents given to them by God begin to reveal themselves. These can be real indicators of the direction that God wishes to take them vocationally. So let me say it in case no one else has given you the permission to think it:
Not all career paths require a 4 year college degree
In addition to a college degree not being necessary for every profession, in many instances there is no economic advantage to pursuing that type of education. Many professional trades have trade organizations that have their own requirements for training, apprenticeships, and qualification or exams.
At least one of our children will pursue a professional trade. Our primary focus is in determining what we need to do to prepare any of our children during their high school years for what comes next. Here are some of the keys to what that looks like for our family:
- Scholastic Achievement : Regardless of our children’s post high school plans, we expect them to perform to the best of their abilities during the high school years in their coursework. This is important, because plans can change. We do not want them to be less than prepared if their interests change and do make a decision in their senior year to pursue college admission.
- Electives as Career Exploration: In our state, a general high school diploma requires the student to have 7 elective credit hours. There is complete flexibility in how to utilize these credits. Our son is seriously considering entering a trade post high school, but is not certain which one. We are seeking to fill his elective credits with courses in residential wiring, small engine repair, a fire safety course or first aid courses, drafting or architecture, carpentry, and agribusiness. A resource for some of these curriculum based courses that we have found helpful is Christian Light Publications.
- Apprenticeships: Some students are doers and just need to get elbow deep in something to be able to determine if it is what they are searching for. In this instance, seeking out apprenticeships in some areas of interest will not only provide hands on training, but also a role model if chosen well and possibly part-time employment after the initial period of apprenticing.
- Dual Enrollment: Seeking some initial coursework in the trade through a local community college is also a great way to determine if additional training is desirable. Our local community college is also a trade school. They offer certificate programs in many trades such as welding, heating & cooling, medical assistants, drafting, and many more. It is important to note that in seeking enrollment either as a dual enrollment student or post high school, your student will need to meet admission qualifications that may include ACT/SAT scores or the schools equivalent local testing.
Part of the joy of homeschooling is that our children do not have to fit in the cookie cutter of the public school system. Coursework can be used to strengthen or explore areas of interest while continuing to develop core subject areas and life skills. I encourage you to consider how God has naturally wired your child. I bet you will find that the gifts and talents that He has provided him will mirror what God is calling him to after high school.