Education Empowerment

Stop Pressuring Kids Into College

Can we stop pressuring kids to go to college after high school?

It is an expensive way for kids to explore their interests and discover what they want to do professionally.

A four year degree in Utah costs on average $50,000. To pay for these expensive degrees, students are taking out massive amounts of debt at an early age. Which results in many of them being financially strapped after college. Many feel that college is their only way to a “better” life because that is what they’ve been told their whole life. But that simply isn’t true.

Here are a few alternatives instead of inefficient and expensive college degrees.

Gap Year

A gap year is a break from formal schooling and is typically done to explore personal interests and possible career paths without the costly price tag associated with college degrees. It allows individuals to gain practical experiences in both their professional and personal lives which better enables them to make thoughtful decisions about their future endeavors.

There are even structured groups designed to help students through this exploration, but students can also do this informally by taking extended trips on their own, volunteering for causes they support, or simply researching ways to capitalize on their talents.

Online Learning

During a student’s gap year, online learning can be a valuable tool. And, most importantly, it can be done at a much more affordable rate than if one went to college. Skillshare and Masterclass provide monthly subscriptions for less than $40 a month. Students can use programs like this to explore their interests and decide what they want to accomplish in their lives.

In addition to that, YouTube is a great resource and is a free option. Especially in this age when many college courses have been recorded and placed online, young adults can find lectures in areas of interest and begin learning right now. 

Trade School or Applied Technology Centers (ATC)

Trade school is often looked down upon by many across the country and in traditional schools. This is likely due to the blue collar nature of the careers they serve. And while yes, many trade schools and ATCs provide certifications for welding, plumbing, cosmetology, and others, there are also many tech careers and certificates that are now offered in these schools. 

Some traditional colleges are even offering short 24-week “boot camps” in many of these tech fields that don’t require a degree.   


Students may already know what they want to do with their lives. And if that is the case, parents can help them start their own business. There are many teen entrepreneur courses, but finding a mentor in your neighborhood may be the better option.

One young man in my neighborhood knew that college was not for him. He loved being outside working with his hands. The idea of sitting in class for another four years after high school did not appeal to him. Instead he started his own excavation business. He currently has contracts and his business is starting to grow. 

Swaraag Sistla, Swadesh Sistla, Ishan Vig. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)


As a parent myself, I understand the anxious feeling of not knowing what my children will do to support themselves. But allowing these young adults to create their own plan will save them time and money. Once they know what it is that they want to do, they can dive in and get it done faster and cheaper.

College will always be there. But allowing young adults to explore outside of traditional college allows college to be part of the plan, rather than the only plan.