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By GreatSchools Staff
Technical schools can be expensive, and they may not offer the training your student needs to get a job. Some questions to ask before investing time and money:
To learn more, read Choosing a Career or Vocational School on the Federal Trade Commission's Web site.
It may be hard for parents who grew up in a less competitive era to understand, but an increasing number of students who've spent years building their academic credentials with AP classes are asking for a breather before going to college. Your child may have the academic preparation for college but feel too burned out to take advantage of it right now. A gap year may be just the thing to get him recharged and focused on what he wants out of an education.
More and more colleges are allowing students to apply, then defer enrollment while they gain life experience and perhaps, a more international perspective. There are programs for students to help villagers build homes in Latin America or work in health clinics in Africa. Princeton University is formalizing the process by offering students financial aid for a gap year. An industry has grown up to place students in overseas programs for a gap year, a concept much more common in Europe than in the United States.
These programs can be a great way to help a student focus on career goals, but they generally cost money rather than providing a means to earn it. It's important for your student - whether she's applied to college or is not ready to do so - to understand the real cost of a gap year program. Talk to your child's college counselor for ideas about researching financial aid options for a gap year.
Finally, try to encourage your child to keep his options open. He may change his mind -many times. The global marketplace will change even more. There will be jobs in 2020 that most of us haven't imagined yet and careers that now look like lifelong paths may simply be first steps into an unknown future.
If your child needs some direction, the Occupational Outlook Handbook [http://www.bls.gov/oco/home.htm] by the Bureau of Labor Statistics has a wealth of information about jobs, including the training and education needed, earnings, job prospects, what workers do on the job and working conditions.
Encourage your child to pursue his interests. The kid who loves playing games online may indeed grow up to invent them. But he'll also need to focus on school so he can learn how to think analytically, solve problems and become a lifelong learner.
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