(This post is part of the series on postsecondary education.)
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This might be a good time to switch gears and consider what a young person, high school diploma in hand, might do other than enroll immediately in a four-year university.
I'm going to start a list. Help me finish it in the comments.
Alternatives to College (or at least to "college right away")
Learn a trade. This can be done through local unions (in my area, for example, the St. Paul electricians' union has a five-year on-the-job apprenticeship program) or postsecondary trade schools and institutes. Some programs take less than a year, while others culminate in associates degrees, still others can lead into specific bachelors programs, and others are multiyear apprenticeship-journeyman-master sequences. Acquiring a valuable skill could boost your hourly wages enough to let you work your way through traditional college afterward.
Start a business. It takes initiative and research, and sometimes several failures precede success, but it's open to anyone.
Join a national or community service initiative, either public or private. On the public side, for instance, Americorps is still around; private organizations such as religious denominations may have service programs too; and there may be something in your community.
Join the military. Technical or professional training is often paid for by the government, and there's job security and benefits; the level and length of commitment varies.
Work hard and save money for a while. Instead of going straight to university, spend a year or two in the workforce, wherever a job can be found. Acquire an appreciation for the value of money and time; learn about an industry or business from the bottom up; see your own community through the eyes of a responsible adult.
Self-education. If you happen to have a source of funds, consider whether part of it could be put towards supporting yourself while you pursue a non-traditional means of broadening your horizons -- travel? Community-based language learning? Self-guided study? Fine arts? Some kind of internship?
Local government and politics. Run for office, or work in the office of a local official, or throw your lot in with a candidate, or with an organized political group or party.
Take a health year. Break an addiction -- or just some bad habits. Run a marathon -- or just get off the couch. Set a year-end goal, plus some medium- and short-term ones, and arrange your life to support them. Invest in a longer and better-quality life.
Any more ideas?