College, with its intensive academic environment and significant expenses, is not for everyone. But what can you do if you don’t attend college? We show you 8 alternatives to college in this article.
There are many alternatives to college that can still land you a good job in the future. See which one can help you develop as a person and as an employee after high school.
Many people finish high school without a desire to go to college. This is not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about.
Modern society makes attending college appear like a social norm when, in reality, there are many people employed in numerous, unique, fulfilling jobs without holding college degrees.
How can you be one of those people, and how can you use your time after high school pursuing alternatives to college that can still land you a good job down the road? In this article, we will answer these questions and show how the answer is easier than you think.
8 Alternatives to College
Why You Don’t Need to Attend College
There are many different types of people in this world. Some thrive in an academic setting and are ready for the intensive, structured four years of college. Others do not learn as well in a classroom setting and cringe at the idea of four more years of school. Some common reasons people choose not to attend college include the following:
- They cannot afford the often-significant financial commitment.
- They may not know what they want to study.
- They are needed at home.
- They don’t feel ready for intensive courses.
- They have a family to support.
- They learn better outside of a classroom environment.
You may have similar or different reasons for choosing not to attend college. However, no matter the reason, it is still possible to have a productive lifestyle after high school.
Some advantages of alternative options include avoiding student debt, gaining practical skills and developing an understanding of what you love to do. While the path may not seem as straightforward as classmates going off to college, it is still a path you can take towards launching a successful career. Save money and stress by considering if any of the following alternative options are right for you.
Volunteer with an Organization
There are many volunteer organizations willing to take on individuals without a college degree. The competitiveness and application process vary by organization, so take some time to research each one individually.
Some examples of volunteer organizations include the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, WOOF and Help X. It is also possible to volunteer at companies and locations such as the nearby hospital or homeless shelter. These experiences help you develop as a person and let you interact with the surrounding world in a meaningful way.
Depending on the organization, volunteering can be a way to see more of the world as well. As a volunteer, you probably won’t be paid, but you can often earn room and board. In addition, you may develop connections or deepen interests that lead to a future career.
Join the Military
It is possible to join the military immediately after high school. This is a good option for students who wish to be part of a disciplined environment and develop field-specific skills at the same time.
Military life can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding. Contact a recruiter and explore the different branches, such as the Army, Navy or Marines, to see if anyone of them is right for you. Committing to the military for a period of time can also provide opportunities for advancement, and some branches will help fund future education endeavors if you want to go to school later.
Freelance from Home
With the rapid expansion of the internet and technology, it is possible to find an online job. This allows you to work from home or from anywhere in the world. Common freelance jobs include writing, programming, and social media marketing.
When selecting an online job, keep a critical eye out for scams. A good way to evaluate a freelance job opportunity is to read reviews of the company from previous employees. There are many excellent opportunities for those able to practice self-discipline when developing a work-from-home schedule.
Freelancing is a great way to enforce practical skills and develop a portfolio that you can present to a potential employer in the future.
Find a Job
It sounds simple but getting a basic job in your hometown is a good way to spend a year or two after high school. This may include working at a restaurant, in a bakery, at a bookstore or in a hotel.
Working at a job develops practical skills and afterward shows skills of commitment and dedication on your resume that will impress future employers. Trying out different job fields helps you determine what you do and do not enjoy doing. It is also a way to save up some money in case you want to go to college in the future or train in a certain field.
Finally, having a job will help you develop an understanding of how a business works, which in turn may inspire you to start your own business.
Attend a Trade School
Attending trade school is an excellent way to learn practical skills that help you get well-paying jobs that are often in high demand. For example, you can attend trade school and learn how to be a carpenter, mechanic, electrician or plumber.
The world currently relies on indoor plumbing and automobiles. Having the skills to keep the world running is extremely beneficial and useful. You can also attend other types of skill-specific schools to become, for example, a commercial pilot or police officer. These jobs do not require college degrees, but they are still important and often fulfilling.
Register for Online Courses
Perhaps you do not work well in a classroom setting, but you still want to earn a degree or at least a professional certification in a field of study. There are numerous online courses and colleges that help you earn a degree at a cost far lower than a typical four-year university.
With these courses, you can create your own schedule and can work at a pace suitable for your learning ability. You can work or contribute to family life while also being a student.
For example, you can take courses in programming or coding, which could lead into either an online or in-office programming position, both of which are well paid. You can also take courses that prepare you for a nursing national licensing test. The more you search for online course options, the more you realize how vast alternative opportunities are.
Travel the World
In the years between finishing high school and starting a career, you may have the freedom to travel and see some more of the world. This is not always a financially feasible option for everyone. However, if it is possible for you, travel and see more of the world and your own country.
It is a great way to develop as person and gain a new perspective on how the world functions. While traveling, you may be exposed to careers that you did not even know existed. Encounters such as these may help you determine what career you wish to pursue.
Network in Your Community
Networking is sometimes a more important factor in obtaining a job than an actual field-specific degree. Make a list of people you know who are currently working. Also, consider friends of the family.
Even if they are in jobs that require a college degree, reach out to those in careers that interest you and ask about a potential internship or volunteer program. Networking often yields better results than trying to send in applications through online portals. An internship is usually paid and is a way to develop career-specific skills. If you work hard and show enough grit and learning capabilities, such an intern position could shift into a full-time career. In the least, it helps you narrow down the list of career options you do or do not enjoy.
Further Advice on Using Time Not Spent in College
Recognize that everything you do shapes you as a person. During your time after high school, take time to read books, listen to the news and engage in stimulating conversations. Just because you are not in college does not mean you cannot follow the intellectual conversations of our day and age.
It is important to understand the perspectives of others and how the world functions. Our lives are more than our work alone. It is important to work towards a career, but it is also important to develop as a world citizen.
Only when you realize that the work you do is contributing to making the world a better place, whether that is as the secretary who makes someone smile or the dental hygienist who brightens someone’s smile, will you engage in a career that is fulfilling and enjoyable.
As you can see, there are many ways to pursue a career without following the traditional four-year college degree track. Use this time after high school to meet new people and develop connections with those engaged in careers you find interesting. Anything that provides concrete experiences and opportunities to develop practical skills is an excellent way to prepare for a future career.