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Updated on Dec 28, 2010

Your teen's about to graduate from high school and you think the next step should be college, but she has other plans. Some students want time to think about different college majors or jobs before taking the big step. Other teens never enjoyed school in the first place and don't want to continue on. Either way, there are options that can help your child find a great career. Leah Dockter, a career development counselor at three North Dakota high schools, reassures, “Some students are hands on people and they shouldn't go to a four-year school with a lot of writing and reading, that's not what works best. They have to find what they like.”

Whether your teen wants to stay out of the traditional college arena permanently, or for just a year or two, here are some options that can lead to a great career:

Trade School or Apprenticeship – For a teen who doesn't like book-learning, a hands-on apprenticeship or trade school may be just the ticket. You study what applies to your field, so if your teen's working with engines he won't be reading Shakespeare in class. A spokeswoman from the US Department of Labor says, “Our apprenticeship program has a very high rate of retention, people staying in the field and making a career.” Find out more about trade schools and apprenticeships:

Stay at Current Job – Another reason teens don't want to go to college may be because they want to work full-time at their current job. Dockter suggests parents help their children look at the benefits, potential raises, and promotion opportunities. Jobs that can lead to careers:

  • Restaurants Got a cook in your family? You don't need a college degree to get into the culinary field. Some of the greatest chefs started out as busboys until their job paid for culinary school, such as critically-acclaimed chef Bobby Flay.
  • Beauty Salon Although it may start with sweeping hair, many salons offer on-the-job training, or tuition to attend trade school to become a stylist.
  • An Entrepreneur If your teen has a mind for business and not college, remember that Michael Dell dropped out of The University of Texas at Austin because the Dell company he created was doing well.

Volunteering – This is a great way for teens to discover fields they're interested in. Check out these great volunteering opportunities:

Traveling – Traveling may be one of the biggest incentives for teens not to go to college straight out of high school. Traveling exposes teens to new experiences and cultures that can make them into a more rounded person. Traveling costs a pretty penny, but it doesn't have to if you combine traveling with work. Just remember you'll have to apply far in advance. Find the job abroad that's perfect for your teen:

So, if formal education isn't in the cards for your child right now, focus instead on helping her discover her interests and capitalize on her talents with these rich programs. A little research can go a long way.

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