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What Should I Do When I Leave High School: Should I Go to College?

Congratulations, your high school days are almost over. You’re probably either excited or feeling anxious about the road ahead or, even more likely, you’re feeling a little bit of both. As someone who grew up during the recession, and who has been a firsthand witness of technology’s rapid acceleration, you know that you can’t necessarily rely on the life path that your parents or teachers grew up with. 

In some ways, this can be freeing: the rules are bending. But with this freedom comes uncertainty. And uncertainty is not fun.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all the well-meaning advice you’re getting from parents, teachers, siblings, friends, guidance counsellors, and just about any other adult imparting career advice upon you, we’d like to help. We’ve been developing this blog series to offer suggestions that can help you make informed decisions about the path you want your life to take after graduating high school. This blog post’s topic is one very big question: should I go to college?

So, Should I Go to College?

nullFor the last generation or so, this would have been a very easy question to answer. The answer would be yes, if you have the grades, definitely go. These days, the answer is a little more complex than a simple yes. Post-secondary education is still an excellent option for life after high school and can lead to incredible opportunities. However, that is no longer always the case.

You’ve probably still been raised on the idea that going to college is the default option after graduating high school. But times have changed. Student debt can be crippling if you don’t get a high-paying job after graduation, and it can follow you into your thirties or even longer. A rapidly changing skills market can make it necessary to upskill soon after graduation. Smart colleges are shifting their focus towards teaching more transferable skills and skills development that will benefit you no matter how greatly the job market shifts, but even these changes are slow to come in.

Post-secondary is still a great option, you might just have to be a little more strategic about the programs you enter. You might have to do a little more research. College programs are generally less expensive and shorter than university degrees, and there may be a greater need for the skills learned there. Engineering technicians, welders, and electrical engineers are still in high demand. Prioritize programs that promote skills that are adaptable to future technologies.

Discovering an Alternative Path

It’s understandable that, after all the years you’ve spent in school, you might not be too excited about the prospect of spending another three, four, or more years in post-secondary. The good news is, you can get a job right after graduation in manufacturing, and it will pay much better than many of the summer jobs most of your friends have had to work to pay the bills. (Hairnets and deep fryer grease, anyone?)

For more information on the opportunities to prepare yourself for a career in manufacturing, check out this free infographic.

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