Because college isn’t for everyone, these skills-based camps will teach your kid a trade


In the early 2000s, the importance of college as a gateway to success was widely accepted. Graduating high school meant submitting college applications and considering safe schools. However, the financial burden associated with college education often resulted in significant debt and uncertainty about future stability.

While higher education has always been seen as a traditional path to financial security and happiness, it is not the only way to achieve these goals. Many rewarding and well-paying jobs do not require a college degree. Graduates often find themselves taking temporary jobs, working in family businesses, or even living with their parents, struggling to find their desired careers.

In response to the growing skepticism around college as a necessity, skills-based programs and camps have emerged to support individuals at a younger age. These programs aim to provide alternative paths to success by teaching valuable skills not typically taught at universities. For example, MyWIC in Philadelphia mentors girls in trades such as construction, while Nuts, Bolts & Thingamajigs offers camps in multiple states focused on 3D printing, drone-making, robotics, and more.

Furthermore, there has been a rise in STEM camps, which teach various technical skills that don't necessarily lead to a college education. These camps cover fields such as technology, video production, audiovisual skills, and leadership development. More and more, parents are supporting their children's desire to pursue their passions, even if it means bypassing a college education.

One example is Jennifer L.W. Fink, a mother who fully supports her son's decision not to attend college. Despite his high GPA and scholarship opportunities, her son plans to build his lawn care and hardscaping business. Fink recognizes that her son knows his skills and talents best and believes he should create a life that works for him.

Learning by doing is a common approach for individuals who choose non-traditional paths. Skills-based camps and programs provide valuable opportunities for individuals to develop expertise in various fields. These programs cater to a range of interests, including trades, STEM, leadership, and advocacy.

While college will remain the preferred choice for many, it is essential to recognize that alternative paths can be equally valid and valuable. The emergence of programs supporting varied interests and the shift in parental support indicate a growing acknowledgment that passion and practical skills are crucial in an ever-changing world.   

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