As another school year draws to a close, many high school students are preparing for college. However, other teens choose to take the road less traveled. There are many reasons a teen may choose not to attend college after graduation, but the simple answer is, it just isn’t right for everyone.

If you have determined that college isn’t the right option for your teen, don’t worry: There are many other paths to future success. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to help your teen consider his options, make an informed decision and create a “plan B” together.

Here are some options to consider:

Military Service

Many teens are drawn to military service from an early age. They may have a family legacy of serving our country or may be moved by patriotic feelings or a sense of duty.

There are many good reasons to encourage your teen’s interest in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps or Coast Guard. In addition to providing a wide variety of professional development and technical training programs, participation in the armed forces also provides general character building. Young adults who enlist in military service learn teamwork, personal accountability, the ability to respect and follow a chain of command and the value of self-discipline. These maturity-building skills are an asset in any future career – and also serve to prepare students for higher education they would not have been ready for right out of high school.

Parents should also encourage their children to get an education while they are serving. Students who enlist and attain their degree while in the service have a much better chance of job placement in highly skilled areas than the average college student, because they bring real-world work experience to the table.  Another benefit is most active service members who receive a college degree leave their service commitment without student loans or debt for their degree.

Apprenticeships and Skilled Trade Programs

Some high school students may not enjoy textbook-led study and feel trapped in the classroom, but love to work with their hands. Teens with an aptitude for mechanics could consider a career in the building trades. The construction industry includes many highly skilled, high-pay professions, from cement masonry to ironworking.

If your teen shows aptitude for building trades, help her seek out opportunities at apprenticeship fairs. Like traditional college fairs, these apprenticeship seminars provide high school students an opportunity to learn more about national skills standards for the 17 apprenticeship programs in the construction industry and to help teens experience what it’s like to work with a wide variety of tools and materials.

Certificate Programs

Some teens may not want to commit to a full four-year college degree program but still aspire to another form of professional licensure or certification.

A certificate program is a program of education that results in a certificate of completion rather than a degree. In general, certificate programs either prepare students to complete a specific task or educate them about one particular aspect of their field. A massage therapist, for example, may complete a certificate program in order to become educated about and be licensed to practice reflexology, and a real estate agent may complete certification programs to earn career accreditations in home buying and selling specializations.

Certificate programs are a common foundation for careers in information technology, health care sciences and other technical fields, and many of these certificates can be earned through online programs in six to 12 months of study.

Service Work

Many teens raised in a faith-focused home may feel called to give back through humanitarian service. Some want to work with children in Haitian orphanages, teach English to underprivileged children in Latin America or build churches for developing Christian communities in Africa.

Many of these opportunities are available through organizations such as the Peace Corps. These programs typically require a two-year commitment but in turn give participants incredible life experience and frontline experience working to make the world a better place. Most high school students are fairly sheltered in their suburban life, and humanitarian mission work provides young adults exposure to new cultures and different parts of the world.

As your teen explores options for her post-high school path, support her decision and give her the tools and connections she needs to achieve success in her adult life. To learn how Compass Rose Academy can help create a “plan B” for your teen, visit