• 19 May 2019
Help! My Student Doesn’t Want to Go to College

Help! My Student Doesn’t Want to Go to College

Mar 25, 2018

For millions of American high schoolers college is the obvious next step in their budding adult lives. But for students who haven’t bought into attending college, there are ways tutors can help motivate as well as explore the alternatives to the college-bound trajectory.

Heading to college or university right out of high school is a practical reality for most American high schoolers. In 2016, almost 70% of high schoolers were enrolled in college or university after graduating high school.

But for some students (much to many a parent’s chagrin), college isn’t on the cards. As another key adult in their lives, what can a tutor do to motivate a student who hasn’t bought into the college-bound trajectory?

Making a Plan

High schoolers are just on the cusp of adulthood with a lifetime of possibility ahead of them. It takes some serious thought to chart a course in life, and it’s equally important not to rush any decision.

If college isn’t your student’s plan, they need to get planning. Your student is likely going to have plenty of conversations with their parents regarding their future, but tutors have an opportunity weigh in as well. After all, you’re a major adult figure in their lives, with an understanding of their academic abilities.

Start out with a conversation about your students’ goals. Be respectful and open-minded and, at the same time, upfront and serious about making a workable plan.

It might be that your student isn’t ready to take the plunge into college--and there’s nothing wrong with that apprehension. College is a major financial and time commitment: the average four-year college program costs anywhere between $10,000 (at an in-state public institution) to $30,000 (at a private or out-of-state institution). And roughly only half to two-thirds of American college students finish their degree programs (depending on whether they attend a public or private, nonprofit or for-profit institution).

Weigh all options with your student. If they’re open to the future possibility of attending college, it’s worth them sitting the SAT or ACT now while the high school curriculum is still fresh in their minds. If they haven’t undertaken any college-level coursework, encourage them to explore taking an AP class or other college prep course.

Perhaps your student wants to explore the world and possible careers or volunteer and meet people in a variety of professions. Explore the many alternatives to postsecondary education with them.

At the same time, your student needs to know the potential, very real downsides of not pursuing a college education. There’s the widening income gap between college graduates and those with only a high school diploma: a difference of $17,500 in annual income (as of 2014). Then there’s the fact that, according to a recent Georgetown University study, 65% of all jobs will require a college education by 2020.

Higher Ed for Tech

Higher education isn’t limited to two- and four-year institutions, and the digital tech economy demands skills that students can learn outside the traditional academic environment.

A growing number of young people are heading to General Assembly and MissionU, which offer “career-focused curriculum” in high-demand fields for the modern economy, from coding to digital marketing and product management. (Bonus: General Assembly’s coding program is free, offering students marketable skills in Javascript, HTML5, and CSS3.)

General Assembly’s and MissionU’s programs range from one-week intensives to semesterly and year-long courses and cost significantly less than the average college degree, and students get real-world experience working on actual projects with major companies and startups, building their skills and potential careers.

Sticking With It

Help guide your student to a plan they can commit to, whether that takes them to college (or a higher ed alternative), a job right out of high school, or some time to explore the world.

Whatever your student’s plan going forward after high school, they need all the support and guidance you, as a tutoring professional, can give.