I'm just going to come right out and say it: college (or university) and school is not for everyone. Personally I left school a year early and was only at university for a year before I realised it wasn't what I wanted to do. Despite this, I'm now in a job that I love which stems from my passion for writing; there's nothing I would rather be doing than writing. What I'm saying is that you don't have to go to college to be happy or to have a successful career. Similarly, if you want to go to college eventually, but not as of right now, that's absolutely fine as well.
Despite what many people think and may tell you, there are several careers that don't require a full degree so it's important to make the right decision about your next step without feeling any kind of pressure to go to college.
There's also plenty of different things you can work towards or choose to focus on as alternatives to college. Here are a few examples, courtesy of Livecareer.com:
Table of contents:
- learn a trade
- get a job
- attend community college or vocational school
- join the military
- focus on saving your money
1 Learn a Trade
Apprenticeships, at one time, were the only way for young people to get a foot in the door to their careers. If you have an interest in a particular trade, such as technology or construction, seek out jobs in the trade that will not only give you valuable experience but guide you toward advancement by helping you with the certifications or licenses you need to succeed. For example, one high-school graduate worked for a pool construction company for several years, learning every aspect of the business before earning her swimming pool contractors license and starting her own business. Another tool to learning a trade is to obtain your certification in that field.
2 Get a Job
Nothing helps more with that transition to adulthood than holding down a full-time job. Your goal should be to move away from the companies that typically hire teens for part-time work to employers that can provide a future. Often larger employers have more opportunities, so start your search there. Also identify employers whose product or service interests you and whose culture you respect. For example, the person who started working for AT&T in the mailroom because he knew it would be a foot in the door, and now, years later, still with just a high school education, is a highly valued member of the company’s corporate technology staff.
While you are trying to find your place in the world, why not spend those first few years after high school making a difference? While you may be familiar with the Peace Corps, they actually prefer college graduates, so you might instead consider looking locally to make a difference or consider such national programs as Americorps, which offers 17-24 year-olds the chance to make a difference through a national network of hundreds of programs throughout the U.S., as well as the Student Conservation Association, which has conservation programs (jobs and internships) throughout the U.S. for adults 18 or older.
If all you can think about is getting out of your town and exploring some other part of the world, then traveling may be for you. Traveling to one or more foreign countries is a great way to experience other cultures, learn more about yourself, and equip yourself with cultural knowledge to apply in the global economy. If you have some money, you can find innovative and cheap ways to explore the world. If you don’t have the money, look into student exchange programs, employment on cruise ships, or becoming an au pair or nanny for a family in another country.
5 Attend Community College or Vocational School
A great way to ease into college and explore more about who you are and what you want to do in life is taking one or more classes at your local community (or technical) college. Classes are cheaper and admission much easier — and many students work at least part-time to pay their way. You can either take a few classes, follow a dipolma or certification track, or advance toward your associate’s degree. Many community colleges have agreements with four-year colleges, so that if you decide college IS right for you, you can then transfer those credits.
6 Join the Military
While not always a popular — or safe choice — joining the military is often a great way to learn more about yourself. Joining the military offers you a chance to serve your country, make a career in the service, and/or earn money toward a future college education. You’ll also earn valuable work experience that can you can apply to civilian jobs once you get discharged.
7 Focus on Saving Your Money
College is expensive. Beyond the day-to-day living costs, students find themselves paying off debt for years. Instead of heading straight to school, consider a year of work to save up for this pricey academic adventure. We’re not saying to set your eyes on your dream job, but starting off small will pay off in the near future when you do set out for school.
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