6 College Alternatives

Sep 3, 2019 by

In recent years, the importance of obtaining a college degree has never been more prominent. And neither has the overwhelming amount of college loan debt left behind. The average college graduate from a four-year university owes over $32,000. An even more shocking statistic — as of 2019, college graduates aged 62 and over owe a whopping $67.8 billion. Unless you’re fortunate enough to receive a full-ride based on either your academic or athletic abilities, the decision to enter college is just as much about finances as it is about your future. But what are your options if the thought of burying yourself in debt is simply too much to bear? Or if you simply haven’t answered the plaguing question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” This article will detail six alternatives to college and show you that success exists beyond campus life.

1. Enter the Workforce

This is probably the most logical alternative to attending college after high school (and a requirement from most parents) — get a job. The good news is, instead of racking up bills, you’ll be making a steady income. Start saving your money to invest in a home, or perhaps attend college down the line. Online degrees are growing in popularity, which means it’s never too late or too inconvenient to get an education. Another perk to directly entering the workforce following high school is that you can experiment in different fields. Does the fast-paced, high-energy environment of food service excite you? Do you find great joy in tutoring young learners? Or perhaps working as a day laborer is teaching you invaluable skills in a trade you enjoy. The workforce is filled with countless positions, opportunities, and life lessons just waiting to be discovered. Find what you love and pursue it further. You can start by checking out these non teaching education jobs

2. Get Creative

Are you an artist? Do you love painting, writing, acting, or another creative outlet? While becoming a stereotypical “starving artist” may not sound promising, now’s the time to indulge your creative side. Most high school graduates have the luxury of living at home with their parents and saving money. But not all parents will be thrilled with the idea of their teen skipping college to finger paint. That means taking your craft seriously so that others do too. Are you into comedy or the performing arts? Start taking acting classes, booking gigs at local eateries, or honing your singing skills. Whatever your craft is, now’s the time to give it 100%. The reward? Turning your passion into a living and proving all those naysayers wrong!

3. Take Up a Trade

If you’re looking for a more secure path following high school, why not take up a trade? There are countless trade and technical schools out there that can teach you any number of skills from plumbing and electrical to construction and welding. And what’s even better is that these types of jobs will always be in demand. Sure, technology is ruling much of the current workforce, but construction will continue to thrive and toilets will continue to clog. But in all seriousness, trade jobs are lucrative, rewarding, and in many ways, guaranteed job security. 

4. Capitalize on Your Entrepreneurial Spirit

With over 30.2 million businesses (and counting) across the country, being an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes hard work, drive, and a vision. It also takes financial backing. Whether you have a great aunt who adores you and is willing to support your dreams or you’re in a position to borrow your start-up funds from the bank, you’ll need access to some money if you want to start a business. And of course there’s the major question of what type of business you want to create. From food service to landscaping, the options are truly endless. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, narrow down your niche from the start. Then, do some research on your major competitors. What are they doing right and where are they falling short? Capitalizing on their shortcomings might just be the key to your success. Keep in mind, you won’t reap the benefits of your business investments right away. Being an entrepreneur means having patience, tenacity, and a winning spirit. 

5. Travel

This option is only for those who can afford it — or those willing to volunteer their time in lieu of payment. Have you always wanted to see the world? Experience different countries and cultures? If so, now’s as good a time as any. In fact, it’s the perfect time if you’re long-term goals include a family. Traveling the world becomes difficult once you’ve laid roots with children and work. There’s not much holding you back fresh outta high school. Work abroad programs are perfect for those looking to travel but are low on funds. You can get a work visa for the country of your choice and find a job that sustains you for the duration of your stay. What’s better than exploring and experiencing the world, while also gaining exposure to different job opportunities? You may just uncover your next career or a new place to call home.

6. Serve Your Country

There’s nothing more honorable than joining a branch of the military. It’s also the perfect option for high school students who lack direction or discipline. Second to the pride you’ll feel when adorning a uniform and dedicating your life to your country, you’ll also experience many other benefits including training, education, sign-on bonuses, free health care, and free travel. But don’t forget, joining the military is not a decision to be taken lightly. You can be deployed anywhere at anytime. This means leaving family, loved ones, and the life you once knew. It might also mean moving multiple times within a short period of time. Then, of course, comes the risk of giving the ultimate sacrifice. But for many who join the armed forces, it becomes a lifestyle they take great pride in and one that they never regret. 

Despite what your parents might say, attending college isn’t the end-all, be-all — there are other options and possibilities out there. Don’t limit yourself to what your future holds. Now is the time to experiment, try new things, and discover what’s the best fit for you. Just remember, it’s never too late to get an education, so even if none of these alternatives pan out, you can always obtain your degree. But one thing you can’t get back is time. Live your life with no regrets — try one of these college alternatives right out of the gate! 

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