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At a Glance

If your teen wants specific training through the military, make sure the contract he or she signs includes that. Getting a job immediately after high school remains a good choice. Teens who go this route need to learn how to search for employment, write a resume, and develop interviewing skills. Many companies reimburse their employees for continuing education in areas related to their employment. Your teen should ask about this benefit through the human resources departments of potential employers. Another option is an internship. Over the course of a year, your teen could potentially participate in two or three internships to explore career choices.

But most internships are unpaid, so planning ahead is crucial if your teen needs to save money for living expenses. Internships provide participants with the opportunity to learn about many facets of a particular career.

Four-Year College or University

They're also a great way to make contacts and develop mentoring relationships. For some teens, taking a year off between high school and the "real world" can be beneficial. This can be a good time to travel, do community service, or even live in a foreign country before the responsibilities of life make it harder to do so. Community service organizations offer a wide variety of choices that teens can match with their skills and interests.

Americorps, for example, offers hundreds of programs across the United States with a small stipend, plus a chance to obtain money for college or vocational training. Many religious organizations provide community service programs as well. However, teens should keep in mind that a brochure may look different from reality, such as with work and service camps in developing countries. They should expect difficulties but know that the rewards of community service often outweigh the hardships — and can actually change the direction of a person's life.

Speaking with previous participants should give a more realistic view than promotional material. And taking time off doesn't necessarily put a teen at a disadvantage for college admission. For many teens — especially those who choose an internship or international service — it can actually be an advantage. While researching colleges, find out if they have delayed admissions programs. Students who enjoy environments where there are lots of degree options and people will likely find value in a university education.

What mainly determines a public or private school college or university is how they are funded.

Public colleges or universities are largely supported by state and some federal funding, in addition to student tuition. Public colleges or universities will often receive donations as well, but private colleges depend on these donations to operate. Because of this funding structure, private colleges tend to be more expensive than public colleges and universities, although this is not always the case. Because of the private contributions and endowments of private college, there often can be very good financial aid packages offered to students.

For more information on public vs. Four-year institutions can differ greatly from school-to-school.

What's Next After High School Book |

And although students pursuing undergraduate degrees from these schools typically complete them in four years, it is important to note that not all students will spend just four years at the institution. Taking the time to compare and contrast different schools based on location, tuition, professors, class-size, educational opportunities, major offerings, and more is essential to deciding which four-year school your student should attend. Nonprofit schools are the schools you likely picture when you think of college: For-profit colleges function more like a business with investors who make money on their investment in the college.

For-profit colleges tend to focus on job-specific curriculums, often technical programs. Whether your student goes to a nonprofit or for-profit school, it is important to ensure that the school is accredited, meaning it is officially authorized and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or another private educational association recognized by the government. Schools can receive accreditation from either national or regional accreditors.

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Most nationally accredited schools are for-profit, whereas most regionally accredited schools are nonprofit. If the schools are not accredited, most experts agree that students should avoid them.

Degrees from these institutions can cause difficulties in the future. When looking for schools, pay attention to what type of school it is you and your student are researching. Some for-profit schools can be a good option for students. Others struggle with enrollment, poor job placement, and accreditation issues. ITT Tech, a large chain of for-profit technical schools across the country, shut down all of its schools recently due to some of these issues.

If your student does decide to attend a for-profit, nationally accredited school, note that in some cases, regionally accredited schools will not accept transfer credits from a nationally accredited school. This has to do with differing academic standards and course studies. Be aware of these distinctions when researching schools with your student.

An undergraduate associate degree is usually completed at a community college, although sometimes it can be earned at a four-year college or university. Like four-year programs, students can still get some general education credits at a community college. There are many reasons students would want to choose a community college over a four-year institution. One of the biggest reasons students choose community college is financial.

Community colleges tend to cost a lot less than four-year institutions, making it less expensive for students to acquire an associate degree or attain general education credits before transferring. Community colleges also tend to have many part-time students, allowing students to work and take classes at the same time. For students with real financial barriers, starting slow and earning credits can be a successful route to earning a degree. The class sizes at community colleges are generally significantly smaller than four-year intuitions, although not always.

Smaller class sizes allow for more personalized attention and one-on-one time with instructors, which is helpful for students who need extra help or like to learn at their own pace. Community colleges provide professional certificates in many fields. These programs can quickly track students into a career at a lower cost.

Some of these programs have been set up with local businesses; others are specifically designed with the industries in the region in mind.

After High School: Different Paths to Success

Some of the most popular certificate programs are in the healthcare, manufacturing, business and technology fields. Researching certification programs is important to find the best fit. Look for programs that address specific needs of businesses in the area, how well past students perform on state certification tests, and if these programs place students in the field as interns or apprentices for on-the-job training.

Professional certification is different from earning a degree because it provides specific skills that are required in a particular job. And she may discover a career path that leads her to further training. Victoria Scanlan Stefanakos is a writer and editor for many national publications. Thanks for being a part of the Understood Community. This email is already subscribed to Understood newsletters. If you haven't been receiving anything, add info mail. Name must have no more than 50 characters.

Email address must be valid. Sign up to get personalized recommendations and connect with parents and experts in our community. Leaving high school After High School: Many career paths can lead to a happy life. College, vocational programs and the military are just a few of the possibilities. Four-Year College or University A traditional four-year college or university prepares your child for a wide range of professional careers.

Trade and Certificate Programs Trade or vocational programs offer a direct path toward specific jobs. The Military This can be a good option for students who thrive on structure and physical activity. Work experience and internships offer a great start to choosing the right path.

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