Choosing the right educational path
After high school, what then? Your children need to choose something to do when they finish high school. They might go to work, enroll in college, join the military, travel, or pursue some other activity. In preparing to make this big decision, there are three important points both you and your children should remember:
- Education or training after high school is important for virtually all career paths. Education or training may occur in a variety of different ways, but learning needs to continue and be life long.
- College does not necessarily mean pursuing a four-year degree while living on a college campus. There are many types of education and training programs that prepare for specific careers or can be used as stepping stones to 4-year college degrees.
- The path taken right after high school will likely be the foundation for future opportunities, but nothing is set in stone. It is critical to think in the long-term. After all, it can take time to achieve one's goals. Our education system offers opportunities to pursue learning at all stages of life. Don't shortchange one's goal if the path is extended by personal circumstances.
There are many ways to pursue education and training after high school. The method will, of course, depend on your children's goals. For many occupations, there is a variety of ways to prepare although some methods are generally preferred by specific employers. The following are the most common training methods:
For some careers, your child needs formal, on-the-job training after graduating from high school. In most situations, on-the-job training occurs after a person is hired. The new employee goes through a program that combines classes and hands-on learning under the supervision of the employer's own training staff. Examples of occupations using formal, on-the-job training include flight attendants, bank tellers, and emergency dispatchers.
In an apprenticeship, your child works in a supervised environment and completes classroom training in a program that can last from one to five years and results in an industry qualification. Apprentices are paid, but at a lower rate than fully qualified workers in that field. Examples of occupations that use the apprenticeship method include various types of mechanics, heavy equipment operators, carpenters, welders, and electricians. In Oregon, the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) oversees and supports apprenticeship programs. For more information about apprenticeships in Oregon, see http://egov.oregon.gov/BOLI/ATD/index.shtml
- Military training
The military trains people in 140 different occupations. Every recruit signs a legal contract for eight years of duty. Usually, military personnel spend two to six years on active duty and the remaining years in the Reserve forces. Service members receive basic pay, allowances, and benefits. They are also eligible for tuition assistance at colleges and universities. However, the military's mission is to fight the nation's wars, not train for civilian jobs. Many military jobs are quite similar to civilian jobs and the training and experience can be valuable. In times of war, there are no guarantees.
Many community colleges, technical schools, and private career schools offer short-term (usually up to one-year) programs that lead to certification in a specialized field. Examples of occupations with this type of training programs include pharmacy technicians, dental assistants, paralegals, computer equipment repairers, floral designers, and medical assistants.
- Associate degree programs
Community colleges also offer two-year degree programs that result in an associate degree. Occupations that often require an associate degree include office managers, nurses, respiratory therapists, forestry technicians, and interior designer.
A person with an associate degree can also use those credits to transfer to a four-year college or university if they want to pursue a bachelor's degree. Transfer applicants from Oregon community colleges may apply to Oregon University System (OUS) institutions having successfully completed one of Oregon's "block-transfer" programs: the Oregon Transfer Module (O.T.M.), the Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (A.A.O.T.) degree, or the Associate of Science Oregon Transfer degree in Business (A.S.O.T.-Bus.). Completion of the Oregon Transfer Module (a one-year program) guarantees that the student has met, in full, all first-year general education requirements at the receiving OUS campus. Completion of a transfer degree guarantees that the student has met, in full, all the lower-division general education requirements at the receiving OUS campus and has junior status for registration purposes. However, class standing and fulfillment of upper-division graduation requirements, or GPA requirements for specific majors, departments, or schools are not necessarily satisfied. Receipt of the A.S.O.T.-Bus. does not guarantee admission into the OUS business school/program of choice, as students must typically complete additional prerequisites. For further information on the A.A.O.T. go to http://www.ous.edu/aca/transferdeg.html
- Bachelor's degree programs
Public and private colleges and universities offer programs that lead to a bachelor's degree. They usually require four years to complete. When a student earns a bachelor's degree it means that he or she has passed examinations in a broad range of courses and has studied one or two subject areas in greater depth. (These one or two subject areas are called a student's "major," "minor," and/or "area(s) of concentration.") A bachelor's degree is usually required before a student can begin studying for a graduate degree. A graduate degree is usually earned through two or more years of advanced studies beyond four years of college. This might be a master's or a doctoral degree in a particular field or a specialized degree required in certain professions such as law, social work, architecture, or medicine. A bachelor's degree prepares your children for an array of careers such as dietician, forester, graphic designer, social worker, and technical writer.
Colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs. The main difference between four-year colleges and universities is that universities include a college of arts and/or sciences, one or more programs of graduate studies, and one or more professional schools. Universities confer bachelor's degrees and graduate, master's and Ph.D. degrees. Many universities also confer professional degrees, for example, in law or medicine.
There are many careers in which your child may be interested - such as architect, lawyer and doctor - that require education beyond a bachelor's degree. These degrees include:
- Master's degree
A master's degree generally takes one to two years to complete. You typically need a bachelor's degree to pursue this option. Some schools combine bachelor's and master's degree programs and allow students to complete both within five years of study.
- Doctorate (Ph.D.) degree
The doctorate is also called doctoral degree. It requires specialized study in a particular field. This degree can take several years to complete. It typically requires a bachelor's degree and a master's degree and original research in an area of specialization.
- Professional degree
The professional degree is a master's or doctorate in a specialized field that requires a graduate degree for practice. Law and medicine are two careers that require professional degrees.
How does my child know which type of training program to pursue?
If your children have career goals, their education plans emerge through research into the occupational requirements. You might want to review the section on High school education plans for the steps your children will want to take to identify their goals and create their plans.
The key question your children will need to answer is "How do I get there?" They will need to research information about their goals to find out the kinds of paths that they may take after high school graduation. A comprehensive career information resource like Oregon Career Information System (CIS) provides information for the majority of occupational areas in the state and the nation. It describes the preparation requirements, including options for formal education, work experience, on-the-job training, and military training, for all occupations. It also connects these occupations to recommended programs of study and training and the schools that offer these training programs.
Your children can also interview people in their career interest areas about how they prepared for their work. Although they may find some unusual individual career paths, people in occupations can also tell them what types of education and training are most valued by employers.
Parts of this information were adapted from the Oregon Career Information System (CIS) with permission.