Is College Really the Only Option for High School Grads?

You’ve thought about it, and now you’re getting ready to move on from graduating High School. Maybe you embarked on getting a job right away and now you’re wondering where to begin? What is the best next move for your life? Now that I’m a bit older, having teenagers of my own, let me impart with you my insight of experiences available after high school.

Let me start by stating that I am a full believer in educating yourself and building the tools you need to grow both intellectually and interpersonally. When talking about options after high school it is an important point to share as you choose the right next step.

After high school, I signed up for a 4-year university, in my favorite location, Santa Cruz, CA. It had everything I desired, i.e. great campus, course selection, and dorm living.

Unfortunately, despite the many people who were a support to me, I fumbled and became caught in a negative campus party lifestyle that removed me from….getting to class.

It was a new social experience of freedom I had not experienced before and it quickly took hold of me. I lasted ONE semester until I finally realized that I was slipping fast and felt that I would head down a darker more painful path if I remained. I came home, feeling defeated, guilty, and shameful for my inability to remain “strong”.

Upon returning and asking the question, “Ok now what?”, I got some insight from my father. He brought up the idea of attending a Discipleship Training School through Youth with a Mission in Chico. I realized that for me, having grown up in church my whole life, I needed to discover my faith on my own and develop a personal relationship with Jesus.

The following year I ended up completing a 9-month Discipleship Training School where I experienced world travel, deepened friendships, cultivated musicianship, and reached others through ministries of hope. I met my wife and ended up getting married a year later.

I reemerged into the educational world when I was 26 years old and went on to complete a drug and alcohol counseling certification, and later completed my Masters as a Marriage and Family Therapist.

Trust me when I say, I put my pants on like you, one leg at a time. It was hard work. I had by this time accumulated 3 children, worked full-time in a homeless shelter, and cultivated relationships in my life that were paramount in the journey.

What I discovered is this. “I get it”, as a parent, as a therapist, as a once young student myself, It feels right to enter into the educational world after high school. At the same time, I see many who maybe just don’t fit this mold right in the beginning.

What is important is to look at what you need instead of simply following the norm or expectations of others.

Whether you attend school, travel, join a Discipleship Training School, or find employment out of high school, it’s important to consider all the options. Sometimes there are many paths to the destination. Gather all the information you can, talk to people who will give you honest advice, pray, and then trust what God has placed on your heart. You may discover that your path my take optional turns, yet it can provide you with exactly what you need in the long run.

Tim Stephens, the author, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist working full time in Media & Communications with Youth with a Mission in Chico, CA. YWAM Chico’s vision is to equip, train and commission people of all ages, whose passion for Jesus will impact the needy and make disciples in the cities and towns of Northern California, unreached people groups and developing nations. We will do this through life-changing training schools, outreaches, youth ministries, serving, and partnering with the body of Christ.

Youth With A Mission (YWAM) is a worldwide Christian movement operating in more than 1,000 locations in over 180 countries, with over 25,000 full time staff since 1960. YWAM is a Christian charity that offers global opportunities for volunteers from diverse backgrounds to care, connect, serve, and build with individuals and communities. YWAM is decentralised in structure and financially autonomous. This allows each centre to adapt and to serve the specific needs of the community.

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