• Alternatives to College

    There are many alternatives to going to college.  Some students delay college for a year and take a Gap Year, enter Vocational Training or Education, while others choose to enlist in the military.  See Peterson's overview article on alternatives.  

      Gap Year

      • A Gap Year is a great opportunity to do something unique between high school and college and is a time for a person to grow both as an individual and as a student. Benefits include travel, exposure to new cultures, and a chance to gain experience for your college admissions application or professional resume. It is also a chance to make the world a better place and give back to the community.  Visit a Gap Year fair to investigate different organizations.  USA Gap Year Fairs visits New Trier High School each January typically. For general ideas and information about Gap Year possibilities, explore the websites below: 

        • The Gap Year: A Comprehensive Guide from New Trier High School - This booklet, compiled by New Trier High School, offers a comprehensive overview of the many gap year programs available.  
        • Gapyear.com
        • Interimprograms.com
        • Oneworld365.org
        • The best way to arrange a gap year is to gain admission to college and then request that admittance be deferred for a year, if the college supports this option. This step will usually require that a plan for the deferred year be submitted and approved.  There are some colleges, however, that do have specific college sponsored gap year programs for admitted students (i.e. Tufts and Princeton).  If admission to college is not secured prior to the gap year, then the student must be sure to maintain contacts with high school counselors in order to complete the admisson process the subsequent year.  


      • The military offers a variety of training opportunities and requires a service commitment in return. In addition to regular enlistment, students who want to pursue a college degree before they complete their service commitment can apply for a ROTC program or service academy.  Names and contact information of the military representatives assigned to our high school can be obtained from your counselor or post-secondary counselors. 

        There are five branches of the U.S. Military: Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.  Each of the military branches involves the armed defense of our country and requires a specific period of commitment. In spite of the risks and requirements involved in joining the military, there are many benefits. The most important of these is the opportunity for career training.  Others include steady income, health care, and tuition assistance for continuing your education.  

        What are the benefits of joining the military? 

        • Steady Income: You are paid twice a month, on the 1st and 15th of every month, based on your pay grade and service requirements. 
        • Advancement: You are promoted based on job knowledge, your performance, time in pay grade and service requirements. 
        • Paid vacation: You earn 2.5 days of paid vacation per month for a total of 30 days each year up to 60 days.
        • Training: You choose your career path based on your aptitude, physical abilities, security clearance, motivation and determination.
        • Health Care: While on active duty, you will receive complete medical and dental care at no cost. 
        • Life Insurance: While serving on active duty (for instance during boot camp and annual training), members can select inexpensive term life insurance.
        • Allowances: While serving on active duty, you will receive additional tax-free money for Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS), if government food facilities are not available in the area you are stationed; and a uniform allowance (for enlisted personnel only) to help maintain your uniform. 
        • Tax Advantage: Only your basic monthly pay is subject to Federal or State Income Tax
        • GI BIll: The Montgomery GI Bill will help pay for college education or vocational training.
        • Tuition Assistance: While in the Reserves or National Guard, you may continue your education and may be helped in defraying the cost of college-accredited courses.  Additionally, if you are in the National Guard, some states offer substantial benefits such as free tuition to state colleges or universities.  To find out more about this, talk to your recruiter or local office. 

        Basic requirements to join the military

        Before you visit your local recruiter, be sure you meet the minimum qualifications for serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Some qualifications are required by all five branches: 

        • You must be a U.S. citizen or resident alien
        • You must at least 17 years old (17 year old applicants require parental consent)
        • You must (with very few exceptions) have a high school diploma
        • You must pass a physical medical exam
        • You must pass the ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) test
          • WTHS is a test site each year on a Saturday morning either the end of January or early February.  See the Counselors Calendar for an exact date. 

        Branch-specific requirements include:

        • Air Force: (800) 423-USAF
          • Be between the ages of 17-27
          • Have no more than two dependents
          • Pass the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test with a minimum AFQT score of 36
        • Army: (800) USA-ARMY
          • Be between the ages of 17-35
          • Have no more than two dependents
          • Pass the ASVAB test with a minimum AFQT score of 31
        • Air National Guard (800) TO-GO-ANG or Army National Guard (800) GO-GUARD:
          • Be between the ages of 17-35
          • Have no more than two dependents
          • Pass the ASVAB test with a minumum AFQT score of 31
        • Coast Guard (877) NOW-USCG
          • Be between the ages of 17-27
          • Have no more than two dependents
          • Pass the ASVAB test with a minimum AFQT score of 36
          • Have a willingness to serve on or around water
        • Marines (800) MARINES:
          • Meet exacting physical, mental and moral standards
          • Be between the ages of 17-29
          • Pass the ASVAB test with a minimum AFQT score of 31
          • Women are eligible to enlist in all occupations with the exception of combat arms specialties: infantry, tank and amphibian tractor crew members
        • Navy (800) USA-NAVY:
          • Be between the ages of 17-34
          • Pass the ASVAB test with a minimum AFQT score of 35
          • Women are eligible to enlist in all occupational fields, with the exception of serving in the Navy SEALS or on submarines

        ROTC Scholarships

        In exchange for a service commitment, the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program provides you with money for college while you're in school. ROTC scholarships allow students to complete their education at a civilian college at the same time they are training to become an officer.  Many college campuses offer ROTC programs.  You must take one military science course along with your other college coureses and, upon graduation, enter the service as a commissioned officer.  There is no military commitment for the first year in the ROTC, allowing you to pursue ROTC on a trial basis to see if ROTC is for you.  Full ROTC scholarships pay for almost all tuition, fees and books charges for four years of college.  ROTC scholarships also come in one, two and three-year lengths.  For more information, call the number below or visit the websites below.  

        US Service Academies

        Each branch of the service operates its own Service Academy as a four-year institution of higher education.  All students receive a full scholarship with a small monthly stipend.  Upon graduation, you're commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army, Air Force, or Marine Corps or as an ensign in the Navy or Coast Guard.  Appointment to a service academy is extremely competitive.  For more information visit: 

      Vocational Training

      • Vocational training or education can be a common alternative to college for students who want to learn to be an auto mechanic, hair stylist, carpenter, electrician, firefighter, or other technical, professional or service-industry employee. Many of these types of careers involve education at a technical institute, an academy (for fire fighters or police officers), or a community college; the completion of a certificate program; or the pursuit of part-time classes while working and living at home.  Typically there will be exams to pass, licenses to be earned, or skills to master.  Students can join unions, such as those for electricians, plumbers or truck drivers, or choose to apprentice to be licensed or accredited professionals.  Entering one of these vocations could be a short-term step or the beginning of a long-term career.  In many cases, gaining additional coursework or even a higher educational degree could help significantly with career advancement.  Explore the websites below to learn more information about these types of programs. 

        • Electrician Apprenticeship School (EARN WHILE YOU LEARN program): Lake County JATC
        • College of Lake County Certificate Programs
        • Gateway Technical College Programs in Kenosha, Wisconsin
        • Automotive: Universal Technical Institute in Lisle, Illinois
        • Automotive: Lincoln Tech in Melrose Park, Illinois
        • Cosmetology: Tricoci University of Beauty Culture in Libertyville, Illinois
        • Cosmetology: Salon Professional Academy of Kenosha, Wisconsin
        • Lake County Technology Campus programs (for junior and senior Lake County high school students).  Most programs are 1 year programs.  Tech Campus Curriculum Guide
          • Automotive Collision Repair
          • Automotive Service
          • Certified Nurse Assisting
          • Computer Support Services
          • Construction Skillls & Management
          • Cosmetology (2 year program)
          • Culinary Arts
          • Early Education & Training
          • Emergency Medical Services
          • Fire Fighting
          • Game Programming/App Development & 3D Gaming
          • Criminal Justice/Law Enforcement & CSI
          • Mechatronics
          • Medical Assisting
          • Multimedia Design
          • Phototonics
          • PLTW Pathways to Engineering
          • Welding/Fabrication
      Last Modified on July 12, 2023