Every year, hundreds of thousands of high school seniors apply to and get accepted to colleges all over the world. This is the traditional and expected way to pursue a college degree, but it is far from the only way for individuals to earn their degrees.
For every teen that attends college the semester after graduating high school, there are many who do not. The reasons vary, but that does not have to be the final word on gaining a college degree for those who do not pursue a college degree immediately after graduating from high school. Many students don’t consider college because of the expense. When I graduated high school, it was still possible to work your way through college. Nowadays the full-time student would have to work a full-time job to accomplish that feat. The adjustment to college expenses in today’s world would have required me to start saving in elementary school, work part-time during each semester and also during summers and holidays. All this work would still have left me with a significant loan balance, but it can be done without incurring “crippling debt.” Anyone attempting to work their way through college today must become a student of the financial aid system and use it to their advantage. Scholarships and grants can significantly reduce the amount of money that would otherwise be acquired through loans.
A more long-term solution to gaining a college degree is military service. Serving a stint in one of the branches of our military will make money available through the GI Bill to fund the veteran’s college education. If the student wants to secure their degree prior to serving military time, they can take advantage of college ROTC programs. The student is offered commission into the military during their junior year. If they accept it the scholarship money will continue to flow through graduation. After graduation, the student will serve their time in the military as repayment for the scholarship money they used while earning their degree.
Though not so cut-and-dry as a deal with the armed services, there are some employer-funded education options. Dedication to completing a degree is vital to make this option work. Usually, the student will register and pay for their college coursework and with successful completion of their classes, the employer will reimburse the tuition expense. Also, more and more businesses are setting aside funds to help their part-time high school employees go to college. This is a very encouraging development and high school students should inquire about such programs when choosing where they will work while in high school.
Any of these alternative routes to a college degree should be worked out with the knowledge and assistance of mom and dad. An ideal partnership between student and parents would be matching funds for college expenses if the family cannot afford to pay for college outright. The old saying, “where there’s a will, there’s a way” applies to gaining a college education. Some will take four years and some maybe ten years. The degree is there for the taking. It’s just a question of what you are willing to do to earn it.