Have you completed high school and wondering what to do next?
If you are unsure about spending four years in college followed by the next 30 years in a job, this can be a deciding moment for you. If you look at college-related statistics, you will be staggered to know that the college enrollees dropped to 3.3% in 2020 due to the high cost of higher education.
While obtaining a degree from college improves the chances of grabbing a high-paying job, it does not guarantee the same. Opting for college immediately after high school might be the choice for many, but not for everyone.
Opting for training courses, doing part-time jobs, or enrolling in art classes if you are interested sounds logical too. Many alternatives to colleges have sprung up in the last few years, and you can consider them instead of choosing to go to a traditional college if you do not feel ready for it.
Read on to know about the best alternatives to college and some FAQs around it:
- What are the reasons to opt for alternatives to college?
- What are the best alternatives to college?
- What should you keep in mind before considering alternatives to college?
Reasons to Look for Alternatives to College
While many high school graduates prefer traditional college education, not going with the flow is absolutely fine too. The internet is home to knowledge if you are keen to learn new things.
There are many ways to expand your knowledge base. You can learn by traveling or getting certified- possibilities are endless if you want alternatives to a college degree.
But before you look out for what are some alternatives to college, pause to reflect on the reasons why you need to search for other options.
Given below are some reasons to consider if you are planning to find alternatives to college:
If you are facing financial difficulties and your family cannot support you with the finances of higher education, you can consider alternatives to college after high school.
Lack of Interest in Academics
Often, people realize early in their life that they have little interest in studies. If you do not find the conventional style of education interesting, you can find alternatives to college after high school.
Disliking the Conventional Education System
If you feel that the traditional education system is not giving you much knowledge or skills to face the real world, you can consider alternatives to college.
Many great personalities have either not been to college or are college dropouts. They have opted for alternatives to college and yet became successful.
What Are Alternatives to College?
If you have decided that you do not want to pursue a four-year college degree, the apparent question flooding your mind would be I don't want to go to college, what else can I do?
You should know that there are many paths you can take that will lead you to a successful career and life. While some options can cost you money, all will cost time.
Given below are some options that you can consider if you want to pursue an alternative to higher education:
Step Into the Professional World
Stepping into the professional world early in life has many benefits. To begin with, it allows you to learn real-world skills. Additionally, it allows you financial freedom.
When you start early, you can experiment with your career choice and find the one that best aligns with your interests.
Given below are some ways to step into the professional world that can be good alternatives to college education:
1. Get an Entry-level Job
So what if you do not have a college degree? You are still eligible for getting entry-level jobs. Jobs like social media manager, virtual assistant, tax preparer, clerk, and medical assistant are good options for you.
Entry-level jobs can offer you the opportunity to learn professional skills while allowing financial independence. You can save and use the money to enroll in college and pursue a degree.
2. Pursue a Part-time Job
If working long hours is not appealing, you can consider working part-time. It can be one of the solid alternatives to college as it will allow you to have time for yourself.
Many jobs like tutoring, data entry operation, and restaurant serving do not require you to work for long hours and can be a good entry point into the professional world.
3. Become a Realtor
One of the most popular alternatives to college that you can consider is by being a realtor. To become a real estate agent, all you need to do is get training and a license.
As a realtor, you will help clients buy or sell properties and earn a good amount of money. The job would require exceptional sales skills and interpersonal skills.
4. Enlist in the Military
Serving the country by enlisting in the military is a dream for many people. It will offer you financial freedom and allow you to travel the world. You will meet new people and learn real-world skills.
If you serve in the military, you will get free higher education if you decide to pursue it. Getting selected for the military can require a lot of hard work, but if you feel it is your calling, you can stay assured that it is one of the best alternatives to college.
5. Apply for an Internship
There are many internships available in the job market that will pay you. You can look out for these on job search portals like Indeed, Monster, and CareerBuilder.
Choosing to do internships instead of pursuing a degree can benefit you by teaching you the skills required to thrive professionally.
Once you gain experience through internships, you can apply for full-time entry-level jobs. For the stated reason, internships can be one of the coolest alternatives to a traditional college.
6. Become a Coach
If you enjoy teaching the skills you have learned to others, consider coaching as an alternative to college. You can become a sports coach if you were a sports star in high school.
You can reach out to schools and institutes that hire high school pass-outs as coaches and pursue this profession or create an online following.
7. Become a Personal Trainer
If you are interested in health and fitness, being a personal trainer and making money is one of the best alternatives to college.
As a personal trainer, you will guide your clients to lead healthy lifestyles. You will train them by suggesting exercises and helping them pursue their fitness journey through healthy diet options.
All you need to become a personal trainer is a high school degree and an industry certification or license.
8. Try Caregiving
Caregiving can be considered one of the most popular alternatives to college as it doesn’t require any college degree. However, you might be required to complete the training and pass the exam as the state requires.
As a caregiver, you will help people who cannot carry out their daily activities due to illness or old age. You need to have empathy and compassion to excel in this role.
Become an Entrepreneur
Becoming an entrepreneur has endless benefits. Not only will it allow you financial independence, but also flexible working hours. Although you will have to put in more effort in the beginning, once you have succeeded, you can choose your working hours as you will be your own boss!
Given below are some of the entrepreneurial options that you can choose from:
9. Start a Business
You need to think of a unique idea to start your business. If you want to sell your product online, there are many online platforms like Amazon, Bonanza, and eBay that can help.
It can be an excellent option if you are looking for alternatives to college that will make you financially independent and teach you what colleges might not.
10. Become an Influencer
Social media is another great option if you are looking for alternatives to college. You can make money by endorsing products. You can even run your YouTube channel, where you can post vlogs that can be monetized.
To become a Youtuber, you must pick a niche and eventually build your community. Once your videos show ads to viewers, you will start earning from them.
11. Write a Book
You can choose this alternative to college if you are a creative person. To write a book, you must pick a theme and plot around it if you decide to write fiction. You can plan how you will go about each element of writing the book.
Once it is all figured out, you can write the book and talk to publishers. Writing is a career that doesn’t require a college degree but a creative mind.
12. Network and Create an Audience
To excel in entrepreneurship, first and foremost, you need to have an audience. Whether you aspire to become a social media influencer or a businessperson, your product will be promoted when you have a large audience.
To network and create an audience, you can use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and Meetup. You can explore similar online platforms to expand your reach.
Also Read: How to network for a job in 2022?
Exploring yourself and learning more about your likes and wants is one of the best alternatives to college. It can help you become self-aware and take a career path that best aligns with your interests.
Given below are some ways through which you can explore yourself:
13. Travel the World
Traveling is the best way to learn about people, places, and cultures. Traveling can be the best alternative to college if you are a wanderlust and want to gain real-world experience.
It can help you discover yourself and experience things that not even colleges can offer. It can allow you to learn new languages and cultures of people residing in different parts of the world; therefore, it is among the best alternatives for college dropouts or high school pass outs.
14. Take a Gap Year to Introspect
Going to college might not suit the need of every individual, and it is absolutely fine if you decide to take a year off for introspection.
By reflecting on your wants and interests, you will get a clear picture of which course would suit you the most. In your gap year, you can learn new skills, draft a plan, or make connections that can be a great alternative to higher education.
15. Take Art Classes
If your interest lies in photography, dancing, sculpting, or any other art form, you can take the classes to enhance your talent. Art is the best way to explore and express yourself.
You can indulge in visual or performing arts and learn about different art forms per your interest. Indulging in the art form can help you enhance your creativity and overall personality. It will also give you clarity on whether you would like to join an art college and pursue a career in it.
16. Teach a Skill
Teaching a skill is a unique alternative to college as it can polish your knowledge and allow you to share it with others.
If you are good at a subject, whether a language or music, you can become a tutor and offer classes to students. You can work remotely or for an institute that hires high school graduates.
Enhance Your Knowledge
Enhancing your knowledge requires working on yourself and interacting with your surrounding. For this, you can use the internet or connect with people around you.
Given below are some ways through which you can enhance your knowledge:
17. Read Voraciously
In the time of the internet, where information is readily available, reading can be one of the most economical alternatives to college.
It allows you to gain knowledge through self-learning and explore an unconventional path than a traditional college. Many renowned personalities swear by reading as it stimulates your brain and opens the door to different viewpoints. Reading journals, books, and articles for self-learning can be among the most productive things to do instead of college.
18. Volunteer at an Organization
Volunteering at an organization can help you serve your community and give you a sense of satisfaction. While going to college can get you a degree, volunteering can offer you an opportunity to make a difference.
If money is not your criterion, volunteering can be one of the best options besides college. You can search for organizations near you and offer services in your free time and learn new skills in the process.
19. Join an Intentional Community
An intentional community comprises people who live together as a unit and pool of resources. They are also known as communes and work together collaboratively to develop a way of life consistent with their shared ideals. For instance, a lot of communes advocate for sustainable living.
If you feel it is your calling, you can connect with people who are a part of intentional communities and share daily responsibilities with them.
Consider Alternative Forms of Training
Alternative forms of training enhance skills and give you practical experiences that come in handy when entering the professional world.
Given below are some alternative forms of training that you must consider if you are looking for alternatives to college:
20. Enroll in Trade Schools
Trade schools or vocational schools are the ones that teach you the necessary skills to step right into the professional world after school. These often last for less than two years and offer certifications or associate degrees.
21. Grab the Apprenticeship
Apprenticeship is job-based learning offered by many companies to recruit candidates who can be taught the required skills.
One of the significant advantages of apprenticeships is that they prepare you for the real world by teaching job-based skills, which many traditional colleges lack.
By 2023, it is anticipated that the tech sector would create eight million new employment, for which many colleges lack the necessary training. Apprenticeship can be one of the good alternatives to going to college if you want to enter the workforce and climb your career ladder.
22. Apply for Coding Boot Camps
Coding boot camps are one of the most recent alternatives to college. Since software development, data science, and graphic designing are in high demand, boot camps offer training for short periods that typically range from 2-12 weeks.
Once you are trained, you can easily build your career in the tech industry. Private companies run boot camps, so you need to choose the one with an innovative payment plan, the best mentors, and transparent results.
Some popular online boot camps include Actualize, Brainstation, and Code Fellows.
23. Pursue Online Courses
If you are looking for an alternative to college that can help you in real life, you can pursue various online courses. These courses generally charge a small amount or are free, which can enhance your knowledge and skills.
Many online learning platforms like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn offer certifications to people interested in learning new skills.
24. Opt for Work College
Work colleges are one of the best economical options to consider as an alternative to college. They cost less and are less time-consuming, and they integrate work into the learning experience.
Many students are going for work-college options other than college as work colleges keep work experience as the crucial part of learning which helps them find their space in the professional world and earn a degree.
25. Register in an Online College
Online colleges are the latest addition to the best alternatives to college. One can virtually attend them from anywhere and are less expensive, unlike traditional colleges.
About 2.5 million undergraduate students in the United States took online classes, and enrollment in online colleges has grown by 2.2%. The primary reason why students are choosing online college over traditional college is due to its flexible nature.
Tips for Considering Alternatives to College
If you are still confused about which one to go with among the sea of alternatives to college, you need to understand your values, interests and lifestyle goals first. While going off to college might be a good decision for some, it can be worthless for some.
Given below are some tips that can help you navigate through college and its alternatives:
- Reflect on your goals and lifestyle and make a plan for your career. Understand how the college you want to go into adds up to it.
- Think if you really want to take an education loan for college or opt for debt-free alternatives to college like work college or online college that cost less and are equally effective.
- The year after high school is the most crucial year to explore yourself and understand your interests. Pursuing new experiences like traveling, working part-time, or doing an internship can give you clarity on your career.
Alternatives to college should be opted for if you have financial constraints, dislike the conventional education system, or do not find academics interesting.
- Step into the professional world by pursuing an entry-level or part-time job. You can also enlist in the military or become a realtor, coach, or caregiver, which are good alternatives to college.
- If you have entrepreneurial skills, you can become an influencer, create a network, and run a business as these are some alternatives to college that can make you financially independent.
- Exploring yourself by traveling the world, teaching a skill, or learning a new art form can be some of the best alternatives to college.
- Enhancing your knowledge by joining intentional community or by volunteering at an organization can give you the satisfaction of serving the community.
- You can also look for alternative forms of training by joining a trade school, work college, or apprenticeship as they enhance skills and give practical experience required in the professional world.
Get in touch with us at Hiration's Career Activator Platform, which offers 24x7 chat support if you are looking for other alternatives to college. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.