Working After High School: The Case Against Going to College Right Away
Working after high school has picked up steam in recent years amid the ongoing push for going to college. More students are looking at their prospects and studying what it is they want to do with their lives. And that search is causing them to ask the question: is going to college necessary?
Perhaps a better question might be, “Is college necessary right away?” That’s because many may want to explore their career-of-choice at the lower levels and decide if moving up the ranks is really for them. In the following article, we’ll talk about important factors like this, and then some. Let’s get started!
1. Acclimates You to Current Challenges
The first big perk of working after high school rather than going straight through to college is this. It readies you for the present. The workforce will probably look a lot differently in 10 years than it does now. But having some sense of placement in where we are and where we’re going is essential to being able to function in that future environment.
Now, what exactly does that mean? It means your career-of-choice currently is using lingo, business practices, and technology that will likely factor into wherever that industry is heading. Being ingrained in it now can save you from having to play catch-up in the workforce of tomorrow.
2. Foreshadows What Role Tech Will Play
We mentioned technology. Think for a moment about the profession of journalism. (Yes, contrary to popular belief, it does still exist.) As recently as 10 years ago, the regional or city newspaper still marched to the beat of printing presses and set nightly deadlines.
It was not uncommon to still hear editors talking of “graphs” and “inches,” even with the invention of the smartphone. Old school reporters continually found themselves getting beaten to the punch by brash young journalists who may have been journalists in name only, simply because the younger folks dared to learn new technologies.
These technologies allowed them to take print-quality camera photographs and upload their stories directly to the cloud all before leaving the event they were reporting on. Some experienced journalists found it all too much and ended up getting left behind. Rapidly, the profession shed jobs and yielded its positioning to “new media.”
Working after high school can help you stay abreast of where certain industries are and how to avoid getting snowed under by the disruptions ahead. And to that end, it also:
3. Guides You Toward the Most Relevant Future Skills
What skills that aren’t in demand currently might be in demand five or 10 years from now? The newspaper/journalism example referenced above could have really turned out differently if more traditional journalists had been asking that question sooner than they did.
Unfortunately, the journalism profession didn’t offer anything better that young high school graduates couldn’t have gotten from putting together a yearbook or high school newspaper. Perhaps as a cautionary tale, other industries have reversed course and opened their companies to students even before graduation. Manufacturing is just one example.
The industry has a few million jobs that will go unfilled if the talent pipeline is not rapidly replenished. As a result, many are helping to fund, staff, and supply credit-based high school programs that give students an automatic “in” to a quality future-facing job.
4. Helps You Learn More About Current Concepts
It’s really quite simple. The more you know about the present, the better position you’ll be in to disrupt it as the future fast approaches. History teaches us much about where we’re going and how to find a better way. And with the rapidly changing world of today — Facebook isn’t even 15 years old — the present is becoming history faster than we think.
5. Gets Your Foot in the Door
Another good reason to consider working after high school is that it places you into the position to earn something even more valuable than a degree. And it gives you this ability early in your career. We’re talking about connections.
Skills, knowledge, and application are valued. But without trust, communication, and respect, you never really get a chance to sharpen them or show what you’re capable of doing. Relationships are everything. And even if you don’t carry the relationships you make in your first job with you all your life, they’ll teach you something about how to approach authority for maximum results. They’ll also teach you how to work effectively within a chain of command.
6. Helps You Realize Whether a Field Is Right Before Going Into Debtors’ Prison for It
Student loans are crushing college borrowers. You don’t have to look hard to find stories on this. A recent analysis from Forbes noted the total was at $1.5 trillion, and that number will only go up in the years ahead without serious intervention. What should you, the high school student, take from this?
In a word, trepidation. Don’t just jump into a major because you think it sounds cool. Rethink the way you might have looked at college in the past or the way your parents are telling you to look at it. In short, if you don’t have a clear idea of the path you want to be on, don’t go to college.
Consider working after high school instead. This can give you a chance to figure out the best home for your brainpower. Delaying college in favor of work until you find the path you want to be on, you can save money for college and prevent overspending/borrowing.
7. Makes You a Better Student When You Do Go Back to Complete Your Education
Many people who forgo college for work right after high school aren’t completely shutting the door on higher education. They’re just taking a break. And they often come back to college with a full head of steam after they’ve had some time to explore their knowledge and skills in the workforce. They do this with the financial backing of their employers as well.
Working after high school also gives you the chance to shake out any immaturity you may still have clouding your judgment. Getting a taste for the world in terms of real dollars and cents allows you to reframe how you think about education and what you want to do with your life.
8. Gives You the Chance to Find a Valuable Mentor
Mentors can be invaluable to the development of a young person’s career. They give first-hand expertise and guidance that never quite gets picked up by training and instruction manuals or textbooks. The real-world application experience is something difficult to teach in class as well.
To find a great industry-based mentor, you have to be in the workforce seeing how they handle the day-to-day. This is hard to come by unless you get your foot in the door and start meeting the people close to where you want to be.
9. Helps You Build More Quickly Towards Retirement
Most reputable companies offer some sort of retirement package as part of their benefits. They realize helping you towards your retirement is a great selling point for building a productive workforce and maximum ROI.
With more stories of how retirement is becoming a pipe dream for younger generations, working after high school and getting enrolled in a program before the debt sets in, is an attractive recruiting option worthy of consideration.
10. Gets You More Comfortable with Juggling Responsibilities
Responsibilities exist before the workforce, but the stakes generally aren’t as high. Getting into a position where the success and progress of a company — and the jobs of your fellow co-workers — depends on you offers a crash course in true responsibility. It also helps you to weigh social, work, and familial responsibilities.
Working After High School Definitely Has Its Perks
Working after high school can be a great way to explore the possibilities of a potential career without going “all in” on the expense of college. If any of the above factors make sense to you, then maybe you should consider hitting the pause button and seeing what an educational pathway has to offer in real-world terms.
What about you, high school students? Do you plan on going straight to college? If not, do you see it as a possibility in your future? Sound off in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Institute for Social Research]