I Don't Want to Go to College: Other Paths to Success

I Don't Want to Go to College: Other Paths to Success

by Heather Z. Hutchins


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I Don't Want to Go to College: Other Paths to Success by Heather Z. Hutchins

The route to career success is mapped out here for those who want to forgo the time and expense of a college education and dive directly into the workplace. As college tuitions soar and the job market tightens, many young adults are questioning the value of a college degree. The pros and cons of this path are discussed, as well as the reasons why many students fare poorly in college. In addition, topics such as the cost and value of technical and vocational training, a rundown of careers that do not require a diploma, and working while going to school are examined in detail. Whether high school graduates wish to pursue extensive training for a skilled position, or bring their entrepreneurial enthusiasm to a particular talent or passion, this information will help them achieve their professional objectives.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781937589011
Publisher: Huron Street Press
Publication date: 11/20/2012
Pages: 192
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Heather Z. Hutchins is a writer, an editor, and a former English teacher. She is the coauthor of 50 Plus One Tips for Handling Everyday Stress and 50 Plus One Tips to Organizing a Successful Social Event. She lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Read an Excerpt

I Don't Want to Go to College

Other Paths to Success

By Heather Z. Hutchins

American Library Association

Copyright © 2013 American Library Association
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-937589-01-1


It's All about You

Finding Your Skills and Interests and Exploring the Job Landscape

Some people are lucky enough to be born knowing exactly what they want to "be" — what they would like to do as a career. For the rest of us, figuring out what we want is more of a journey. Depending on your attitude, the journey can be an adventure with fun along the way or a scary trek through very dark woods. Don't worry. With just a little effort on your part, you can find many possible career options that you will enjoy and that will make you a living wage.

This chapter covers the five primary ways to find career possibilities that suit your interests:

• Talking to professional career counselors

• Exploring what kinds of jobs are out there

• Taking career and personality assessment tests

• Conducting informational interviews

• Taking an inventory of your strengths and interests

In all five, the most important skills are the ability to ask questions and keep an open mind about the careers all around you. Especially in the early stages of your search, do not limit yourself to obvious choices. Move a little further a field to look at unusual jobs, jobs around the country or around the world, and jobs in emerging fields.

Meet with a Career Counselor

One good way to figure out your preferred career is to talk to a professional career counselor, such as your high school guidance counselor or a counselor at a local college career center, at a private firm, or with a local or federal jobs program. Career counselors are trained to assist you in figuring out your job and life goals. Talking through your interests with a professional will narrow the scope of your career search.

High School Counselor

If you are still in high school or are a recent graduate, the easiest start is to visit your high school counselor and ask for advice. Most high school counselors are trained to help students figure out their career interests. Sometimes the counselor will just talk to you. Sometimes you'll get brochures or computer printouts. And sometimes you'll find yourself sitting at a computer either taking a career assessment test or looking up jobs that sound interesting in a career database. One of the big advantages to talking to your high school counselor is that it's free. Most of the career testing offered by this type of counselor is free, too.

Local College Career Center

The two- and four-year colleges in your area will almost certainly have career centers. In many cases, career center staff will help community members with their career searches for a small fee. If you didn't get enough help from your high school counselor, or if you've been out of high school for a while, this is a good, reasonably priced option. These professionals help college students every day, so they have a good idea of what the local job market looks like. They are also excellent sources of information about the best jobs for the future.

Private Career Counselor

You can also seek the advice of a private career counselor (sometimes called a career coach) to help you find a career. These counselors are usually employees of for-profit firms. If the initial appointment is offered for free, you can expect it to be primarily a sales pitch for paid services rather than a true counseling session, but such an appointment is a good opportunity for you to ask questions. Before you make a fee-based appointment, be sure that you know the counselor's background and experience, including his or her experience in helping those without college degrees. Ask for a list of people the counselor has helped and call a few of them to see what exactly he or she did. Also, make sure you know exactly how much the consultation will cost and what the counselor will do for you for that price.

Local and Federal Jobs Programs

If there is a local jobs program in your city, you can go there for help with your career search. Most of these centers are created to help those who are out of work, but often they can also help young people who are looking for career direction. Because these organizations help people move to new fields of employment, they can provide a great deal of useful information about the local job market and about careers with solid potential for the future. And like the high school guidance office and the college career center, the jobs program office will probably have databases that you can use to search for descriptions of different jobs. To find your local jobs programs, visit the website for your city or county government and look for a "Services," "Programs," or "Employment" section. For example, in Chicago, the Youth Career Development Centers, a local jobs program that offers career counseling services to young people ages 14 to 21, is listed along with other jobs programs under the section on the City of Chicago website titled "Programs and Initiatives."

Or look for your local One-Stop Career Center by entering your zip code into the location finder at www.servicelocator.org. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, One-Stop Career Centers offer such services to career and job seekers as individual career counseling appointments. The career counselor can help you define your career goals, offer you testing in skills and interest inventories, and suggest an action plan, steps to take to get you on your career path. And there is no fee for any of this help.

See What's Out There

Researching your options is an essential part of your career planning. Purchasing career books and access to career databases can be an expensive undertaking for an individual. Luckily, your local library is a treasure trove of information about careers. Talk to a librarian about your career search and ask if you can make an appointment with a reference librarian. Reference librarians are skilled at finding exactly the information you need. If you cannot find a reference librarian, you can always ask at the front desk of your local library. Any librarian can help you find the library's career information.

Be sure to ask the librarian to look for jobs and careers with the level of education you have in mind. The librarian needs to know as much as possible about your career search. If you have absolutely no idea at all, tell the librarian and ask for some ideas about where you can go to find out about careers and jobs that might interest you.

Check Out a Book or Two

There are dozens of books about determining the right career or job for you, so browsing the career section of your local library or bookstore will always turn up something. Two books to seek out specifically are What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Bolles and If You Knew Who You Were, You Could Be Who You Are by Gerald M. Sturman.

Although it has been years since it was first published, What Color Is Your Parachute? continues to have a huge impact on the job scene. Richard Bolles is a sought-after speaker on the subject of finding the right career and getting a job. Old as it is, this book is still an excellent source for finding out what you want to do with your life, and it has been updated frequently, so look for one of the newer editions. There is also a version for teens written by Carol Christen and Richard Bolles, What Color Is Your Parachute? for Teens: Discovering Yourself, Defining Your Future. Bolles's website, www.jobhuntersbible.com, is one of the best sources for online testing as well.

If You Knew Who You Were, You Could Be Who You Are is a career-assessment seminar all wrapped up into an easy-to-use workbook. The author, Gerald Sturman, provides a variety of career assessments in addition to career advice. This is a particularly good resource if your access to counselors and assessment tools is limited.

Use the Net

Professional career counselors or your local librarian can give you access to career databases to which they subscribe. They will also be able to direct you to Internet resources that are the most helpful and online testing tools, some of which are described later in this chapter. Most people don't think they need professional help to search the Internet, but your searches will be much faster and more productive if an expert researcher is advising you. If you want to find exactly what you want right away — without wading through hundreds of websites trying to sell you something — ask for assistance from your local librarian. There are some excellent online resources for exploring careers. Here are a few:

Exploring Career Information


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, offers a variety of excellent resources. This great job portal for high school students and graduates is one of them. The site, geared at high schoolers, lists careers by personal interest category: math, reading, science, social studies, music and arts, building and fixing things, helping people, computers, law, managing money, sports, nature, and more. Each category page provides information about specific jobs and explains how to get into these jobs, as well as how much you can make and what your day-to-day job would be like.

Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH)


The Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH), also published by the BLS, lists hundreds of careers along with career outlook, wages, and the education and training needed to be hired in that career.

For each occupation, the OOH provides the following information:

What they do. What are the duties and responsibilities of people working in this occupation? What tasks do they complete on a day-to-day basis? There is a page in each occupation profile that sums up this up for you.

Work environment. Is it dangerous work? Do people in this career work in office buildings, hospitals, homes, or outdoors? Find out by clicking on this tab in the occupation profile.

How to become one. Some jobs you can go right into. Others require training, and still others require a certificate or degree. The OOH will let you know.

Pay. How much would you earn? The handbook gives you an average salary for each occupation.

Job outlook. What does the future look like for people in this profession? Will the profession be in high demand or on the decline? OOH researches and projects what each career will look like in ten years and whether it is expected to grow or not. You can find this information for every occupation in the OOH.

Similar occupations. What other related jobs are out there? If you like the idea of being a radiologic technologist, you might love the thought of being a diagnostic medical sonographer. When you visit an occupation profile, you can read about related fields and occupations.

Contacts for more information. Where can you learn more? Just follow the links provided in the occupation profile.

My Next Move


This site asks, "What do you want to do for a living?" and offers three ways to answer:

"I want to be a ..." If you know what you'd like to do for a living, you can "describe your dream career in a few words" in the blank provided, click Search, and you will be taken to a list of jobs that are relevant. Click on any of these jobs to be taken to a simple one-page summary of that job, complete with information on the knowledge, skills, and abilities you need to have to do it, along with the education and training required and even good personality traits to possess.

"I'll know it when I see it." Click on a pull-down menu, select from a list of industries, and click Browse to explore occupations by the industry you want to be in.

"I'm not really sure." Click Start to answer a series of questions to help guide you to information on careers you might be interested in. Based on your answers, you'll receive a list of suggested careers that match your interests and training.

One of the great features of this site is the simple and user-friendly occupation profile pages. My Next Move is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor.

O*NET Online


O*NET Online is an interactive website for exploring jobs and job trends. You can search for occupations by skills, tools, and technology. To do a skills search, visit www.onetonline.org/skills.

Or you can browse by career cluster, industry, and keyword. An "advanced" search allows you to search for careers using the following options: abilities, interest, knowledge, skills, work activities, and tools and technology. To do an advanced search, go to the O*NET Online main page and click Advanced Search in the top navigation bar. A pull-down menu will appear, giving you these options. Any search you perform will take you to a list of relevant occupations. For example, if you search for a specific technology in a "tools and technology" search, the search results will be a list of all occupations that use that technology. Clicking on an occupation from this list will take you to a page with details about how that technology is used in that occupation. This is valuable if there is a specific technology you want to use in your career.

America's Career Infonet


The main page is full of links useful for people exploring careers. Click on any of them for information and tools to help you zoom in from the big picture, but here are some of the best:

Occupation Information. Clicking this link will take you to the Occupation Profile, a tool that allows you to search by keyword or select a job category. The most useful feature of this tool is that it gives detailed information for the career you're interested in.

State Information. Select this link if you want a "big picture" of the careers in the state you live in or want to move to. Job outlook and salaries, among many other factors, vary from state to state. On each state profile, you can see the fastest growing occupations in that state, the average salaries for careers, and much more information, including links to free career services offered in that state.

Videos. Click this box in the middle of the page to view videos about nearly 550 different occupations.

This site is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor, so it's free to use.



Check out career-planning tools for young adults thinking about their next steps. This site is particularly informative about careers in military service. One tool on this website, MyPathway, will lead you through the decision-making process of finding a career and training for that career.

Consider High-Demand Careers

Look into careers that are expected to have high demand in the future. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 18 of the 30 fastest-growing careers require less than a four-year degree. The following table lists the average salary earned by people in these careers and the amount of training needed for each. Several of these careers will be discussed further in later chapters of this book. You can also visit www.bls.gov/ooh and search by an occupation name to see a complete profile.

Take Career and Personality Tests

If you visit a career counselor of any sort, he or she will probably have you take one or more assessment tests. These tests typically indentify aspects of your personality or define your desires for professional fulfillment and then link that information with potentially suitable careers. You may have already taken at least one of them while you were in high school. The career and personality tests offered most often are described in this section. Take as many of these kinds of tests as you can. Each one will tell you a little more about yourself and encourage you to think about what you want to do. You never know which piece of information will help you uncover your desired career path. Fees for the paid tests typically range from $10 to $100. Here are some of the most popular.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a classic and widely used test that classifies test-takers into one of sixteen personality types based on four fundamental traits. The theory is that certain personality types will do well in certain career paths. For example, a person whose test results indicate he is an ESTJ (extroverted, sensing, thinking, judging) type might make a good police officer. Many colleges administer this test as part of their career counseling services for students, and companies often give this test to members of project teams to help them work together more successfully. Although you will be charged a fee to take the test, many swear that the results are particularly insightful. Visit www.mbticomplete.com to take the Myers-Briggs test online. Once you have taken the test and discovered your personality type, there are many free resources on the Internet that can help you translate your results into career suggestions.


Excerpted from I Don't Want to Go to College by Heather Z. Hutchins. Copyright © 2013 American Library Association. Excerpted by permission of American Library Association.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 It's All about You: Finding Your Skills and Interests and Exploring the Job Landscape 1

2 Jobs without Formal Training: Learning on the Job 19

3 Jobs with Formal Training: Where Apprenticeships and Specialized Training Can Take You 41

4 Jobs with a Certificate: Where Credentials Can Take You 55

5 Jobs with an Associate Degree: Where Two Years of College Can Take You 65

6 Getting the Training and Education You Need: Where Should You Look? 75

7 Applications and Essays: How to Succeed 85

8 Resumes: Showing Them What You Know 97

9 Interviewing: How to Be Likable 111

10 Paying for Training and Education: Estimating Costs and Applying for Financial Aid 125

Resources 151

Index 177

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