If you’re a high school college guidance counselor, chances are you are thinking that a certain number of your counselees should apply to non-traditional, alternative colleges. You might already be an expert on those colleges and what they offer. If you are not, you are probably thinking that when you have the time, you will investigate non-traditional colleges and make some recommendations about where your students should apply.
That is all well and good. After all, a guidance counselor’s job is to help students refine the lists of colleges where they will apply. However, doing just a little research into colleges makes it abundantly clear that . . .
There are dozens of kinds of “alternative” schools
In fact, the entire concept of an “alternative” college is almost certainly flawed, because there are so many different kinds. For just a quick overview of how different they are, consider the fact that a so-called alternative college could be any of these things . . .
- Nurturing of independent study like Evergreen College, where students can design their own programs of study.
- Focused on creativity like Bennington College where students can focus on writing, dance or other arts.
- Environmentally committed, like Oberlin College.
- Rooted in one educational philosophy like Deep Springs College, where students learn through a rigorous program of academic study combined with physical labor.
- Supportive and humanistic like Wayfinding College, which is dedicated to developing the whole person and not treating students as “numbers.”
- Dedicated to innovation like Olin College, a unique engineering school with an emphasis on developing innovative and creative products with the potential to succeed.
- Supportive of students with special learning needs like Daemen College, which has a special emphasis on educating students who have autism.
There Are Many Kinds of Alternative Students Too
A high school guidance counselor we know reports that among her counselees is one ”late bloomer” who has no idea what she wants to do with her life and will need a college that can help her define her career options. But that same counselor is also counseling a student who is already completing advanced engineering projects and who needs a tech school that will let him dig in and learn more about the career path he has already chosen. And she is also counseling students who want to explore pursuing careers in modern dance, screenwriting, culinary arts, and automotive design.
Are all those students in need of an alternative college? In a sense, yes. But they are very different, and the colleges they attend should be very different too.
To Learn More about How Students Plan Careers
We invite all students to explore their career options by participating in our career and college studies. Students who complete the free career test for high school students will receive information on college and career opportunities which match their interests.