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Early Bird Gets the Worm – Discussing Education With Your Kids

Whether you have a second grader or a sophomore in high school, it’s never too early to start discussing educational opportunities. The old model of graduating and going directly to a college or university is no longer the only lucrative choice, leaving people of all ages and socioeconomic statuses options in a wide variety of fields. Depending on your child’s age and interests, there are several aspects of higher education to discuss long before applications, essays and financial aid are concerns.

Practical Experience Opportunities

There’s no shame in a young person taking time to explore several career paths with practical experience before deciding on the field they like best. Entry-level jobs that require no higher education exist in nearly all fields, including law, medicine, optometry, finance and retail, just to name a few. If your child dislikes the classroom atmosphere, on-the-job education can be a great way to find the right career without student loan debt or switching majors.

Skilled Trades Options

Skilled trades, such as electrical, plumbing, welding and machining, are in-demand and can be learned via apprenticeship programs or at a focused trade school. Some programs can be completed in under two years, and may students prefer the hands-on nature of skilled trades over the classroom environment. If your child shows an aptitude for a skilled trade, begin discussing the possibilities early to ensure the best choice possible after high school.

Online Education

For self-motivated people, online classes can be every bit as instructive as brick-and-mortar schooling. Online school also cuts out commute times, travel costs and dormitory fees, if the student continues to live at home. Courses range from a certificate in legal assisting to a master’s in social work online and almost everything in between. Even degrees that demand hands-on practicum, such as medicine, can be done largely online. If your child is computer-savvy, an online education may be far preferable to the expense and life-altering commitment to on-campus living.

Tiered Educational Opportunities

While some students go straight for the end goal of a masters or PhD, others decide to work their way up. For example, a young person interested in becoming a dentist may decide to get certified and work as a dental assistant before making such a big commitment. Someone interested in finance may decide to work as a teller or a financial adviser at a bank before going for higher education.

It’s never too early to discuss the various educational opportunities available to your child after high school. Sometimes, an alternate route can save you and your child thousands of dollars, especially if he or she decides that a traditional college or university isn’t necessary for their chosen career path.

Tim Esterdahl

Tim Esterdahl is the editor of IFCS blog. He is a married father of three and enjoys golf in his spare time.

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