Finding Your Path After High School

Dear Dr. Linda,

Our son, Joey, graduated high school in June. He was going to work for his uncle who has a landscaping business, but that’s not working out. He’s looking for another job, but the only thing he can find are jobs at fast food places. His dad is screaming that he’s not looking hard enough, but I don’t care about the job right now because I want him to go to college. I don’t know how that’s going to happen because there is no money to send him to college and my husband doesn't agree with me—he didn't go to college and has done well enough. Besides that, Joey didn’t take the SAT or ACT like his older sister did. He graduated with about an 85 average.

So, I’ve got this depressed 18-year-old lying on the couch playing games on his iPhone all day. Even though his dad and I don’t agree on what he should do, we know that his problem is going to become our problem if we don’t do something.

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Is it too late for him to go to college? Just tell me what to do and I’ll make it happen.

Joey’s Mom

Dear Joey’s Mom,

It’s never too late to go to college. However, before insisting that Joey go to college this September, you should think this through and carefully make a plan.

Begin by sitting down with Joey and his dad and calmly talking about the options Joey has and agreeing on a long-term goal. Then you can establish short-term goals for how to achieve it. Will that be easy? NO. And remember, the goal of having him go to college is your short-term goal. It doesn’t seem to be Joey’s or his dad’s goal at this point.

Your family conversation needs to begin by talking about what Joey wants to accomplish. Again, that won’t be easy because he’s only 18 years old and probably hasn’t been exposed to a wide variety of career options. That doesn't mean that he's done anything wrong—many college students don’t declare their majors until the end of their second year of college.

To help Joey figure out what to do right now—and at no cost to you or him—think back to what Joey enjoyed doing as a child. For example, if he loved the outdoors and hated sitting in school, explore careers in which people spend most of their days outside. Then zero in on a few of these careers and go online to see what training these people need in order to be hired.

In addition, meet with counselors from local two- or four-year colleges to talk about Joey’s future. He may end up not going to those colleges, but he and you will learn what they offer and get some needed advice. If he decides that he wants to go to one of them, although he hasn't taken the SAT or ACT, he can register as a nonmatriculated student. That means he’s not enrolled as a full-time student, but will receive college credit for each course he takes and passes. Once he has taken enough courses, he can apply to become a full-time student.

Finally, if the only real issue is money, do your homework. There’s more financial assistance and scholarships out there than you think. Begin by contacting your state’s higher education department or local service organizations to see what they offer.

Dr. Linda

If you have a question to ask Dr. Linda about your child or a school related situation, she can be reached at

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of or anyone who works for is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

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