Graduating from high school is a momentous occasion. It’s also a time where seniors are riddled with anxiety about what their next step will be. It seems as though nowadays society expects nothing less than a four-year college degree. Are there other options? The short answer: yes. Take a look at the following alternatives to the traditional college experience.
If a traditional four-year degree is uninteresting to you, seriously consider going to a trade school. An article written by Kat Tretina for forbes.com states, “Trade schools, vocational schools, or technical colleges provide hands-on training for different skilled careers. The programs tend to be much shorter than college programs, with students graduating in six months to two years. The cost of attending a trade school is much less than attending four-year schools. The average cost of completing a program is $33,000.” Certain professions will always be in high demand and trade schools can help you learn the skills for many of them. Jobs such as plumbers, electricians, construction managers, dental hygienists, welders, pharmacy technicians, graphic designers, and paralegals are just some of the programs offered by trade schools. If you aren’t convinced this educational path is the right one for you, look up the mean salary for any of the above-mentioned jobs. A respectable salary combined with low costs for schooling makes trade school a no-brainer.
A two-year degree may seem very similar to a four-year degree. However, there are plenty of job opportunities that only require an associate’s degree. One major benefit of going this route is cost. You can earn this type of degree at a community college and it will cost significantly less than it would if you were to attend a university. Another benefit is time. Similar to trade school, many two-year programs will teach you the skills necessary to go directly into the workforce. For example, you could obtain a radiation technician degree and make around $80k a year. Get a two-year degree in computer programming and make $70k+. It’s completely possible to find associate degree programs that will give you the skills to secure an amazing job upon graduation.
Forgo school altogether. Explore your passion and become an entrepreneur. No formal education is required to start your own business; however, that doesn’t mean you won’t have a lot of learning to do. This is undoubtedly a more difficult path than attending school, but setting your schedule and salary can be worth the effort. If you have a wonderful, unique business idea, pursue it. Find a mentor, and read as much as you can about starting and growing a company. With a little luck and a lot of hustle, you just might find success.
You don’t have to follow one cookie-cutter path towards your future. There are alternative education opportunities for those who aren’t sold on attending a four-year university.