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After getting AA...how much help?


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DS graduated from community college this past weekend with his AA in Speech/Communications, highest honors, fully transferrable to state college, age 19. However, he is taking a gap year, for sure, and does not know if he will return to finish a 4-year degree or what degree he might want. He is just done with school, wants to save enough to buy his own car, and isn't sure of the next step.


No, he really hasn't done any career testing, tho' I've suggested it and sent him web sites and gotten him books. He does love public speaking, debate (tho' he was working every weekend so didn't get to be in debate club @ CC), presenting information to people. In his job he talks to people from all over the world, presenting information and making them laugh while taking them on an outdoor zipline adventure. He's not exactly sure where this leads him, though, and is pretty sure he doesn't want to work in an office all day. His favorite classes at the CC were in speech and business marketing, which he approaches rather like winning a video game. He is really sure he doesn't want to go to school for awhile and he never wants to take another online class...he hates the format.


Anyway, my question is, how much "help" should I offer -- college hunting, scholarship hunting, types of job suggestions, etc.? On the one hand, I have confidence ds will succeed in what he tries...and so does he. I don't think he *has to have* a 4-year degree to make forward progress. On the other hand, it's really hard for me not to push him to get a 4-year degree, as I still see that as a passport to the future, and something he could do affordably while living at home (we have a state college in town that offers communications and business degrees) and still working his zipline job. If you don't have another direction, why not take this one?


Right now, I'm just waiting to see what the summer brings. He has a pretty physically demanding job, and maybe after a full summer of it he'll have a different perspective on continuing school. Or maybe he'll find himself an internship; he's mentioned that idea but done nothing about it.


I appreciate being able to think this thru out loud here, and I would love to hear your feedback.

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I might be the odd one out here, but at 19 he is both old enough to know what he wants right now and young enough that a gap year or two or three won't do much harm.


He will learn a lot by working full time. He might get bored and start reading and learning on his own and then be more directed when he goes back to school. He might start his own business.  I would only point out some deadlines (fall classes, spring classes, etc) but leave it all up to him.


Congratulations to your son on his AA! 

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I would suggest offering input casually rather than an official, "I have called you here today to discuss your future..." And I would also offer all the help I could, if he but asked.


I would be sure to let him know that it will never get any easier for him to pursue his education than this time in his life. I laugh when I think back to how sorry I felt for myself sometimes when I was in college. I thought I was sooo busy, overscheduled and stressed out. Ha! From my lofty view point as a middle aged adult, I now look back on those times as when the living was easy.


Gently point out to him that as he gets financial obligations, relationship obligations, work obligations, etc. that it will become more and more difficult to be able to carve out the time and money to pursue his education. Nineteen is not too young to learn that there are seasons for various things in life. Unless there is a compelling reason for him to remain in the work world rather than his education (a la Steve Jobs, etc.) then he should pursue it sooner rather than delaying it until later.


Because, as we all know, there are so many opportunities that will be denied by the absence of that one little check mark by the "college degree" box on the application. Although he may not care much now, when he is 40 he might be in a position where a college degree would be very helpful to him. We live in a society where the subject of the degree is oftentimes less important than the existence of the degree.


This is not to say that he can't be successful without a degree, but he would be multiplying the likelihood by getting that piece of paper. You might mention to him that it is like a critical bit of safety gear that he feels he would never need. Might be okay to leave it behind, but generally reassuring to have it and tremendously better to have it if it is needed. HTH!

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