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Welcome to the Mentor Learning Center

Alternative Pathways for Post-Secondary Education

This article will provide you guidance around supporting your mentee who may be considering other post-secondary options other than traditional 2-year and 4-year institutions. Consider the information below as a starting point for conversations and planning. As always, your Program Manager is well positioned to be a resource in this pivotal time in your mentee's life.


Note: Many of the following challenges with graduating, and graduating on time, can occur due to immigrant status. Federal financial aid (as well as some scholarships and grants) are not available to undocumented students, and it may be harder for them to access support programs. Their obligations at home and ability to graduate on time can also be threatened by obstacles that naturally arise due to late arrival to high school.

There may be a variety of reasons your mentee may not be considering tradition higher education institutions. Whether your mentee is not meeting graduation requirements or college isn't applicable to their career pathway, the information below details some things you can help your mentee plan for the future.

If your mentee has to delay graduation

Your mentee can...

  • retake regents in August and beyond.
  • retake courses at their high school if they haven’t aged out (under 21).
  • can make up credits at YABC or at similar programs.
  • take TASC (formally known as the GED).

If your mentee can't afford to go to college / they need to work

This may happen because of family obligations or the mentee starting their own family. Sometimes, there is lack of parent support for continuing education.

Your mentee can...

  • attend college / vocational school part-time and work full time.
  • defer acceptance for fall, and start in Spring after saving money.
  • attend training programs or lower cost vocational programs, which may act as a quicker start to a career, although limited to the specialty and level of expertise.
  • take time to prepare appropriately for job interviews: resume, professional dress, identifying the best job opportunities for growth (management potential), and practice their interview skills.
  • look for part-time internships to supplement a full-time job, and grow skills in their area(s) of interest.
  • have a conversation with parents / utilize a third party for support around explaining the value and cost-benefits of going to college.
  • check region-specific support programs, like NYC's ASAP, SEEK, and CD, which aim at helping low-income students navigate, afford, and succeed in college environments.

If your mentee is not interested in pursuing a degree

Perhaps this is the case because of low grades, your mentee is unsure of their interests, social distractions, or perhaps they are already making “good” money.

Your mentee can...

  • attend training programs or lower cost vocational programs, which may act as a quicker start to a career, although limited to the specialty and level of expertise.
  • take time to prepare appropriately for job interviews: resume, professional dress, identifying the best job opportunities for growth (management potential), and practice their interview skills.
  • look for part-time internships to supplement a full-time job, and grow skills in their area(s) of interest.
  • keep the option open by having conversations around career exploration so that if/when they decide what their long term career goals are they know which degree to pursue.
  • learn about enriching and exciting gap year programs in public service or travel, such as City Year, Year Up, abroad programs, community service, etc. These can act as excellent opportunities for personal growth and resume building.
  • become involved in programs, such as CLIP, to strengthen English language skills so that they don’t need to take remedial courses and are prepared for college-level writing.