I don’t intend this to be a contrarian position and yes, I do very much value a college education. Let me say, however, as I mentioned in the post about math and science, all college degrees are not created equal. If college costs had not sky-rocketed as they have during the past 30 years, deciding to major in Diversity Studies, Philosophy, or a number of other liberal arts disciplines would be a matter of pursuing personal interests without perhaps an eye for practical application. With that said, as long as you understand that jobs in those areas tend to not be plentiful and skills such as written and oral communication are what you plan to bring to whatever actual job you pursue, then enjoy the time spent. Read all the philosophy you wish and plan to go into banking or whatever. With the economic reality of tens of thousands of dollars for a college education though, you at least want to try and limit a four year degree to four years. The truth is that not all high school seniors are ready for college and that is nothing to be embarrassed about.
As an Army veteran I strongly believe that if someone needs some time to “find themselves”, the military is a great place to do so for those who are physically and mentally able. I didn’t say it was an easy way, and no, not everyone will qualify. Other options though such as the Peace Corps or Americorp provide an opportunity for young people to engage in worthy projects that can help them focus on what they really want.
There are certification programs in many of the trades that may be a better answer and if your child has always shown an interest in mechanical things or has an eye toward beauty school, that is a valid way to enter the working world. Most adults will have multiple careers and rather than spend huge sums of money that may result in a failed try at college, step back and consider if a delay is better for your son or daughter.
Taking on a part time job and going to Community College part time taking basic courses that will apply to most degrees is another approach that can be a great fit. We all want what is best for our children and our society stresses a college degree as being what is best. I have come to believe that is simply not always the truth. Choosing to attend college much later in life may be a better answer and in some cases, not attending at all is the correct choice.