As the parent of a teen with learning or attention issues, you may wonder what options your child will have after high school. School may have been a challenge. But there are many paths that can lead to a happy and independent life. Here are the most common options for life after high school.
Four-Year College or University
A traditional four-year college or university prepares your child for a wide range of professional careers. College can be a challenge for any student. It requires hard work without much supervision. Your child won’t have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to help her stay on track in college, either.
Talk with your child’s IEP team about what type of college is the right choice. Smaller schools may offer more attention. Larger ones may have more resources. When looking at colleges, meet with each school’s disability services office to make sure their team can support your child. Some colleges have LD programs that offer additional services and supports.
A two-year college may be a great option for your child if she’s unsure about her career path or isn’t ready for a four-year college. These programs give her the option to move on to a four-year school. Or they can strengthen her skills and prepare her for a career with a two-year degree.
Two-year colleges may offer tutoring and training to help students move into adult life. They can help your child build her time management and study skills and get used to college life while still living at home.
Trade and Certificate Programs
Trade or vocational programs offer a direct path toward specific jobs. Students who struggle in school may prefer this type of hands-on learning. There are programs in a wide range of areas, including things like web design, electronics and medical assistance. Many colleges also offer certificate programs.
Programs tend to provide more supervision, to help students keep up with their work. Many also offer internships or apprenticeships that help students move into the work force.
This can be a good option for students who thrive on structure and physical activity. The training involves a lot of practice and repetition. Service in the armed forces can lead to a job or college-level education.
It’s important to consider how your child’s learning and attention issues could impact her training. Can she work without accommodations? Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act guarantees access for people with disabilities. But it doesn’t cover all parts of the military.
Some teens don’t feel ready for college directly after high school. One option for them is a “gap year.” A gap year is becoming more common among American students. And many colleges will now allow students to defer enrollment for a year. Many students spend their gap year exploring interests through internships, volunteer experiences, a job or travel.
If more schooling isn’t right for your teen, going straight to work can be a rewarding path. But in a tough job market she may have trouble getting a job, especially if she has no experience. If that’s the case, she might consider volunteering for a while to build skills. School guidance counselors and community centers can help find internships and volunteer work that interest her.
Family members and friends may know of jobs that would suit your child, too. As your child learns solid work skills, she’ll become more independent. And she may discover a career path that leads her to further training.