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Two Year Break after the High School. Oh, and You Get Paid.

It's basically a Work-For-Food/College program. Or you can call it "Gap Years" between high school and college.

Photo of Niandong Wang

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In Israel,  every high school student will serve in the military for a number of years before they can start their college (with some exceptions).  All of Israel's nine public universities, and some of its colleges, are subsidized by the state, and students pay only a small part of the actual cost of tuition.

Now, US is not Israel and we are not sending all kids to the troops. And even our public universities - including my alma mater UC Berkeley -  are fighting the uphill battle that state funding is becoming lower and lower.

But why can't we encourage some 18-years-olds to apply for "Pre-College Work" programs that employers such as UBS, Google, Farmers Insurance, Airbnb, etc to fund and operate?

They can call them "college trainees" and they will receive full benefits and compensation. The only difference between a college trainee and an employee who is a college grad would be:  the trainee's paycheck will be deposited into an individual tax-free fund account that can only be used for higher education expenses. 

In another word,  the trainees work for the experience, save for the college, and at the end of the two-year trainee period, will have two great options: 1) convert to a full-time employee;  2) go to the college with substantial experience and decent savings.

I will be the first one to sign up this program for my high school teen if there's one by 2018. 

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Why do we think every high school grad has to go to the college right away?


Join the conversation:

Photo of Thao Vo

I love your idea since it will benefits for students in both of practical working experience and saving for their college fee. However, I also considering about the standards or requirements in which we base on to choose the students for this program. Also, We also need to offer solutions for the companies in human resources and cost management as they may take into account these factors if the program applied.

Photo of Niandong Wang

Thao, thanks and you have a good point. Just as SAT is operated by the College Board, applicants for this trainee program could probably also go through a 3rd party (or third parties) for assessment, administration and basic skill training/orientation, so that all sizes of companies can use them without having to worry about additional cost/resources.

Photo of Saqib Ali

This is one of the best posts that I have seen yet! It's further interesting that a student has options as to whether he or she wants to go to college after the two year trainee program. Furthermore a student could have the option to attend college (part time) while he or she is working for the company. On the other end I believe many companies would be interested in pursuing this strategy because many tasks do not necessarily require a college degree. Meanwhile companies would not necessarily have to provide the benefits that they offer full- time employees. Students will also gain real world experience far in advance than they normally would. Great idea!

Photo of Niandong Wang

Thanks Saqib! I am glad that we share the same views on this.

Photo of Pearson Daniels

There is a valuable lesson being taught here-- if you want something, like higher education, you are going to need to work for it. For some, this means taking out loans and working after college in order to pay off debt. On the other hand, it would be interesting to see high school grads taking a couple of years after high school to work and invest in their future. As a result of this, I think students would take their college experience more seriously. This would also instill patience and build maturity, valuable qualities that we certainly can't have enough of today.

Photo of Niandong Wang

Thanks Pearson! You summarized the benefits nicely :-).

Photo of Cristin

I think this would be especially valuable if students had the opportunity to engage in a rotational program within a company. This way, they have exposure and reduce unnecessary credits due to changing of major/education path. This would also give the employer a level of confidence that the education they were pursuing would contribute to the value of the firm.

Photo of Niandong Wang

Cristin - that's a great idea! Many companies already have rotational programs for college grads and MBA grads, so this would not being something new to them although the rotational program for 18-year-old will probably be quite different than 22+ year olds.

Photo of Sakshi

I love this idea! I think it's a great idea for teens to get some work experience before joining college and being forced to choose a career path they might know anything about as well as paying enormous fees. I think companies would be interested as well since they can get young students interested immediately and increase loyalty from a younger age.

Photo of Niandong Wang

Thanks Sakshi.

Photo of Patricio Toussaint

Hi Niandong:

Thanks for your contribution, I think you are totally right. People may get experience and could even save a good amount of money if they work before getting into college. Here are some related articles that could be of your interest: