It’s a question pondered by most students beginning in elementary school: “What will I be when I grow up?” The goal for many high school students is to continue their education past the 12th grade. But as more iGens or Gen Z’s prepare to wrap up high school and venture into secondary education, some are second-guessing it. So what’s best for you? Explore these thoughts before you make that final call.
Do You Have Money Saved for School?
Having funds set aside for your education can be a real benefit. College savings accounts like a 529 or Coverdell can be accessed with little to no fees and tax burdens. This makes them excellent choices for a nest egg to access and use toward school costs.
Planning ahead to avoid student debt is the best financial move, but not everyone is lucky enough to have savings accounts set aside for school. Before you consider applying for student loans, factor in your prospective salary upon graduation. If you feel confident that you can pay off your loans without sacrificing your daily living expenses, the risk might be worth it. Keep in mind that student debt is a huge problem, and many graduates learn the hard way that the money they owe can loom over them for decades to come.
You Already Have a Good Skill Set
Did you go to vo-tech or take college prep courses while you were in high school? Maybe you’re a whiz with computer programming and even did some work on your school’s website. The knowledge you’ve gained has given you a head start you can use to springboard your career. Use your experience to land a job as a developer and showcase your skills to potential employers through your online portfolio.
Bookkeeping is another high paying career in which experience can be gained through high school accounting, data entry classes or vocational school. Bookkeepers can make upwards of $48,000 a year depending on their demographic, and you don’t have to have a degree.
Consider a Trade School
Trade schools are accredited education platforms that offer classes directed more toward teaching you how to do a particular skill. Courses take a lot less time than earning a degree and are much more affordable. If you’re struggling to come up with tuition and related college costs, check out a skilled trade. Examples include:
- Energy management.
- Electronic engineering.
- HVAC technician.
- Dental hygienist.
- Medical or dental assistant.
All of these are focused courses that help you learn the skills quickly, so you have experience and can find a job right after graduation. The cost of a trade school education is also significantly less than a 4-year college degree.
Find a Job That Pays for Your Schooling
If you have your heart set on being a social worker or teacher, it may be worth it to obtain your bachelor’s or master’s degree. The Direct Loan Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program will forgive your student loan balances if you make at least 120 scheduled monthly payments on direct loans and you’re working full time at a nonprofit or public service organization.
Some employers may pay for your tuition or for classes to further your job position. Ask about their employee benefits before accepting a job to ensure they offer this opportunity.
You’re never too old for college, so if you decide to go a different direction now, it can still be an option later. Your path to success needs to be unique to you, just like your education. Regardless of whether a college degree is in your cards, you can find the career that’s right for you — but it’s up to you to get out there and pursue it.
~Here’s to Your Success!
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