Though college is the right training for many careers, it’s not right for every career and every student. If you know college isn’t right for you, how do you tell your parents?

Sometimes it seems like the world just expects you to go to college after high school, but as graduation approaches, you may have realized a different path is right for you and your aspirations. While society might think that a four-year degree is the only viable option, you know that apprenticeships, certification programs, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees are all possible paths to a great career. If college isn’t the right training for the career of your dreams, it probably doesn’t make sense to into debt and spend at least four years of your life earning a degree you won’t use. While the decision about which type of training is right for you after high school is a very personal one, it’s important to discuss your options and opinions with your parents or guardians. If you truly believe college isn’t right for you, keep in mind a few key points for a successful conversation.

Be an Adult About It

college isn't right for youParents will be more open to hearing why college isn’t right for you if they hear mature reasons regarding your decision. Provide relevant, well-planned responses to quell their fears, and be ready to provide data that supports your argument. College drop-out rates could be decreased if students were honest with parents and discussed their lack of interest in, pursuing a degree without a childish, immature-sounding approach. By leading parents on without sharing your apprehension toward a college education, you could be on the path toward starting, yet not finishing, a traditional undergraduate program. Explain why college isn’t right for you by trying to take emotion out of the discussion and focusing on the logic behind your decision. Talk to them as adults, not caregivers.

Create a Strong Case

college isn't right for youIf your parents had their hearts set on you attending college, you’ll need to be prepared with some hard data and research. Explain what your end goal is, how it connects to your current interests and skills, and how your proposed path will get you there. Do your research to find out how much the training you need will cost, what the average starting salary for your dream career will be, and how long it will take to recoup your education costs based on that salary. Compare it to the cost of a traditional four-year degree. By showing parents how serious you are about pursuing your education through different means, you will come across as a responsible adult who is interested in pursuing a career in a unique field rather than a child without ambition or direction.

Plan Ahead

Prepare in advance and practice presenting your side of the argument. Schedule a time to discuss the issue with parents that is free of distractions and stressors. Try to anticipate their questions and concerns and prepare responses ahead of time. Take deep breaths and remind yourself to stay calm. Create note cards if they will help with the presentation and keep you on track with key points.

While it might seem that parents are a bit stubborn, they want the best for their children. Remain rational, see their points of view, and don’t become upset. By discussing how college isn’t right for you and the reasons a non-degree job is your path to excellence, everyone will be better off in the long run rather than if you would waste precious time and money pursuing a degree that won’t help you do what you love or cause you to drop out halfway through a program.

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