What do homeschooled kids do instead of a traditional 4-year degree? This is a question I wondered about a lot as a new homeschool mom. I heard parents constantly talking about how they were not going to push their kids toward the 4-year degree path. I would nod along, saying “Yeah, college degrees can be really expensive and aren’t for everyone.” But in my head, I wondered what on earth these kids were going to do.
Now that I’ve been in the homeschool community a long time, I’ve actually seen some amazing young people make some of those other choices. So, I’m going to share a few of them with you*.
So Many Choices
Samantha graduated from homeschooling and chose to go get an esthetician degree. Essentially, she went to beauty school. The specifics of the things she studied included skin care, waxing, facials, and makeup. This program takes one school year or less to complete. You can also do an additional year of training to be a Master Esthetician and be able to do chemical peels and other advanced skin care techniques.
After completing her degree, Samantha is ready to work at a spa. Which sounds like a very relaxing place to work!
If your student is interested in working in the health and beauty field, there are also degrees and certificates in massage, waxing, and nail technician, just to name a few. These all vary in length and some require passing a board exam and holding a license to practice in your state.
Making Your Passion Your Profession
Asher had a strong interest in music and working with his hands. He decided to go to school to learn to build and repair guitars. His program was also short but intense and prepared him for a variety of jobs either building guitars or possibly opening his own repair business.
If you have a student that loves music and wants to work with their hands, I found programs to build and repair violins, cellos, and pianos, too. The schools that teach these skills are often small and the coursework I found varied from a single intense semester to up to two years of dedicated study depending on the instrument and the course load.
There Are Jobs You May Not Even Have Known Existed
David had a passion for history and firearms during his homeschooling. He loved museum field trips that included historical guns and ammunition. After graduation, he decided he wanted to start his own business making historical reproductions of firearms. So, his first step towards that goal was finding a place where he could attend gunsmith school.
Most gunsmith programs are designed for retired folks who want a program they can do from home. But David felt he needed the opportunity to take classes in person. Gunsmith schools are not common, but he was able to find one that was in the same general distance he would have considered for 4-year colleges.
Not Your Typical College Experience
If your student is considering a career path like this, there are some things to keep in mind. Most schools that offer these types of degrees are very small. They don’t have a dorm, cafeteria, sports teams, or student health facilities. If your student has to attend this school far from home, you will need to help your student make a plan for where they can live and how to address the various situations that you, as the parent, have been taking care of for them. Do they know how to make an appointment with a doctor if they need one? Do they know how to meal plan and make a grocery budget? Are they confident finding their way around a new town either driving or with public transportation?
It’s a lot to consider, and if you, like me, went to a large 4-year college, lived in a dorm your freshman year, and had a meal plan, you may not realize how much your transition into adulting took place over the course of many small steps.
If your student cannot live at home while gaining the degree or skills they want, you can look for schools near family or friends. Having an aunt, grandparent, or family friend your student can call in an emergency can take a lot of stress off of everyone.
Do you have a student pursuing a career that doesn’t require a 4-year degree? Tell us in the comments!
P.S. Names were changed to protect the young adults highlighted in this story from potential embarrassment.
About the Author
Laura Sowdon, OTR/L is an occupational therapist, writer, speaker, educator and creator of the Five Senses Literature Lessons homeschool curriculum. She has worked as an occupational therapist with children in public and private schools, as well as private practice. Laura has taught and managed homeschool co-ops as well as homeschooling her own three children. Laura is dedicated to the idea of educating children at a pace that aligns with brain and physical development milestones and respects neurodiversity in all its forms.