What to Do If College Isn’t for You
I’d like to be able to say that college is for everyone, but I’d be lying. College definitely has a ton of benefits, and anyone can attend. But some people simply have their own plan and college isn’t in it.
There are plenty of successful people out there that didn’t go to college or dropped out, like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. But let’s be clear: they are in the minority.
The success of people like Zuckerberg and Gates have made a lot of high school graduates question whether or not college is really the best decision for them. But before you run to drop out or make the choice not to attend college at all, consider these alternatives.
Related: 6 Signs You Should Switch Your Major
Take a Semester to Find Your Passion
You don’t have to go right to college after graduating high school. There’s an expectation that students have to go to college as soon as registration opens up. But if you haven’t decided whether or not you actually want to go to college, consider taking the first semester off to think about what you want in life.
Don’t spend this time just sitting around playing Xbox though. Actually do some research about different industries that you might be interested in or try getting an internship. (Note: Our Career Guides are a great place to start.)
If your passion requires a college degree, then you can register the following semester. You might find out that you just had cold feet and were nervous about college. The semester you took off might have been exactly what you needed to get the motivation to go to school.
If you choose this route, avoid falling into the trap of never making a decision. You might start to get too comfortable and stay stuck in a rut for years. One semester is enough time to decide what you want to do.
Develop Your Skills
A lot of the things that you learn in college will probably be strictly academic. In other words, they won’t be “hands-on” skills that you can use in a career. If you want to go out into business for yourself or start a career with a company that primarily just wants someone that can get the job done, then you can spend time developing your skills on your own.
There are certain in-demand skills that you can learn without going to college like:
- Graphic Design
- Web Design
- Handyman work
- Internet Marketing
Take Online Courses
In the past couple of years, there has been a lot of growth in the online education arena. And I’m not just talking about online universities. I’m talking about resources like:
- Khan Academy
- Open Courseware Consortium
- Open Learning Initiative
- Open Culture
- Open Education Database
- Academic Earth
- MIT Open Courseware
All of these sites offer free courses (Udemy offers paid and free) that are open to everyone. If you feel like college isn’t for you because it will be too difficult, taking these free online courses will help warm you up for university courses.
Try Community College
If you don’t want to go to college because you don’t want to spend four (or more) years in school, start off at a community college and get an associate’s degree. Two-year programs give you a taste of what universities are like with the added bonus of being cheaper, smaller, and seen as a bridge between high school and four-year universities.
Some careers only require a degree from a two-year school, in which case you might not even have to transfer to a four-year school after you graduate. Do some research into your ideal career and see what type of degree you need.
A lot of students overlook trade school as an option. In high school, we’re usually given two options: community college or a university. But if your career goals involve learning a skill like carpentry, welding, design, or cosmetology, then a trade/vocational school might actually be a better option.
The benefit of attending a trade school is that you get more hands on experience instead of just “book-learning.” These schools usually team up with employers to help place you in an apprenticeship or entry-level position after you graduate as well.
Get a Career That Doesn’t Require College
There are some careers that don’t require any type of education beyond a high school diploma, but they are definitely becoming harder to find. Keep in mind that this route is usually a lot more difficult and your earning potential probably won’t be as high as those that require a college degree.
These are some of the alternatives you have if you’re wondering whether or not college is for you. You should make some attempt to educate yourself beyond high school.
The job market is becoming increasingly competitive and more companies are requiring college degrees even for positions that previously didn’t require one. Take a look at this higher education path infographic to help you decide what you want to do after high school.