We hear almost daily that our kids all need to go to college. That’s what will ensure that they have a successful life with a fulfilling, well-paying job. This is especially true of gifted children. After all, they’re smart; they’ll do well in college. What else could they possibly do? Well, actually, they can do a lot. Not only do they have other options available, but they may even end up making more money than they would if they got a college degree — and they wouldn’t be burdened with debt. Chris Arnold at NPR in his article titled Economists Say Millennials Should Consider Careers In Trades explains why learning a trade might be a better idea for our kids.
When we hear about college and careers, what we hear about are the averages. On average, college graduates earn more than those without a college degree, but as Arnold explains, averages don’t tell the whole story. In fact, Anthony Carnevale, quoted in the article, takes it a step farther and says, “averages lie.” But if you want to talk about averages, he’ll tell you that “the average electrician makes $5,000 a year more than the average college graduate.” And there are quite a few electrician jobs available today – about 600,000 of them.
Remember Cliff Clavin, the know-it-all postman from “Cheers”? John Ratzenberger, who played the lovable Cliff, has known about the need for more people in the trades for years. In an interview with ChemInfo, he talks about how he discovered that America was running out of skilled workers as he traveled across America for his television show “Made in America.” From that experience, Ratzenberger created the Nuts and Bolts Foundation, which encourages kids to enter the trades and to become inventors and entrepreneurs through manufacturing summer camps and scholarships.
Ratzenberger doesn’t think we allow kids to tinker enough. I agree. Kids can learn a lot from tinkering with tools and mechanisms. Anyone who has seen a gifted kid take apart everything in sight to see how it works knows exactly what I mean. If your child is one of those kids, let him take things apart! Let him tinker. You never know what he might grow up to invent – without a college degree.
None of this means, of course, that your child shouldn’t go to college. It just means that your child can find a rewarding, challenging, and well-paying job and create a happy and successful life without college. And that job could be in one of the trades.
Other ways to explore careers with your gifted teen:
- Helping Gifted Teens Find the Right Career
- Exploring Unconventional Occupations with Your Teen
- Pros and Cons of Military Careers
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