Post High School Programs & Advisors

Parent Q&A

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  • My 16 year old son has ADHD and Learning Disabilities.  Academics have always been hard for him.  He has an IEP and is getting through high school, but not thriving. Traditional academics are not his thing (at least not right now).  He'll likely graduate with a modified diploma. He is bright and has many strengths, but will not have the pre-requisite classes to attend a 4 year college, and will also likely not be ready academically to handle that kind of environment.  Even community college may be an academic stretch, although a program with strong disability services might be okay. 

    His passion/dream is to be a pilot. This is likely not possible because of his ADHD (he currently needs medication to function at school and this is a rule out for pilot license).  He knows this and is open to another aviation career/job, but doesn't have a lot of ideas.  His high school is full of college bound high achieving students, and school counselors are not as focused on other post high school opportunities.  I would love to find a counselor to work with him on-line who understands teens who are not strong academically, but have other talents, and someone who really knows what other options are out there.  I'd like him to have help exploring the post high school options that might be the best fit for him, and someone to walk him through the steps that are necessary to help him get to whatever post high school goal he comes up with. He might be a good candidate for some kind of technical program in aviation, for an apprenticeship program, for community college, for a gap year work or program to gain independence and confidence, for getting a job and learning how to manage a budget and begin to live independently.  I don't know what all the options are, and I think that these conversations would also work better between my son and an objective adult.  

    I am not pushing any agenda for him, except to gradually build some kind of plan over the next 2 years, so that he'd got something to do when he graduates that he feels is meaningful. 

    Do you have an on-line counselor recommendation for non-traditional career/academic guidance.  I'm not looking for a life-coach person--the issues are not a lack of motivation, but lack of ideas for what options are out there that would be a good fit.   Thanks so much! 

    What about fire fighter or police academy? It makes sense to me (mom of ADHD boy who luckily is a talented athlete good enough to play in college) that your son would be attracted to what sounds like an exciting career- flying an airplane! Boys like ours want to be stimulated- ER doc, pilot etc. I’m not sure but I think you might not need a 4 yr degree to be a fire fighter or EMT, or paramedic? All exciting jobs and doing good in the world!

    good luck!

    One of the post-high school ideas suggested to my ADHD son by a science teacher is the aviation maintenance technician course that's offered at Alameda Community College: The coursework can be transferred to a 4 year university and graduates can also work in other fields such as BART, elevators, etc. It looks like a great program, and since there's some hands on coursework it's not all lectures.

    My son was in a similar boat with ADHD and traditional high school was not being a good fit despite no learning disabilities and high intelligence. He was floundering. You don't mention what school district you're in, but we were in Albany which is very academic and college driven. So much so that a counselor told me she'd often hear kids bragging they aced exams when she knew they were failing. I was shocked to learn that there was a significant amount of kids going on to community college. So sometimes all hyper focus on college isn't the reality and the kids not going a 4 year college route are in the shadows.  One of the best things that happened to my son was getting placed in their alternative/credit recovery program which has small class sizes (I think most he ever had was 10 kids in a class), are interactive and there is less homework. They did field trips to visit community colleges. There was also a dedicated counselor for the program so there's a lot more personalized attention and support, and and he could text his teachers and counselors any time. He went to failing grades to flourishing in the program and regained an interest in learning. If there's an option like that in your school district I encourage you to look in to it. 

  • Our HS senior is clear he does not want to go to college next year, or perhaps any time soon, which is fine with us. At the same time, he does benefit from structure - which could mean anything from a job or internship to a gap-year program. Can you recommend counselors who help seniors like him think through their alternatives, or specific programs that our son (interested in fashion design, social justice, and biking) might be interested in?

    I would probably reach out to any number of college counselors listed on this site for direction, even if you feel he might not be interested in college 'any time soon,' as they may have valuable information for you. For example, I recently was on a school zoom where a counselor suggested that if you are graduating HS and wanting to wait to apply to colleges, it can work against you to take some courses in the meantime - then you would need to apply as a transfer as opposed to a freshman, which was interesting and helpful advice. A full-time job at a nonprofit or internship would provide plenty of structure and hopefully inspire college entry- if they are interested in social justice there are PLENTY of non-profits locally, they could work with, or they could look for a job at a bike shop or clothing retailer. Wishing him (and you) well!

  • Post high school transitions program?

    (1 reply)


    can anyone recommend a top notch post high school transitions program in the Bay Area? I’m Looking at either public or private. We are in the Acalanes school district and expect to go to DelValle, but are open to other options. Even ones out of state. However, my child will be graduating with a certificate of completion, not a high school diploma. I am not looking for a college transition program.However, being able to take a community college course would be a plus to keep active with typical students.

    thank you.

    Hi there,

     I've begun looking for programs for my son and was provided with the names of the schools below.  I believe that these program focus on young adults/high school graduates (diploma or certificates) with learning differences or special needs. I've looked into a couple of them and some are more college "readiness" programs while others are more focused on guiding the person to oa career/vocational path and in helping the young adult learn to  live on their own ( or with roommates).  I do know that CLE in Monterey has both "tracks"; college readiness (including attending classes at the local Community College) or career/technical/vocational. 

    • College Learning Experience (CLE) in Monterey.
    • Star Academy in Marin in partnership with the College of Marin. It is located at the College of Marin's campus (when in-person learning resumes). 
    • Taft College in Southern California.
    • Wayfinders at Fresno State
    • New Directions in Pleasant Hill

    Good luck with finding a good "match/fit" for your student.