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What Are the Best Alternatives to College?

A traditional college or university isn’t always the answer or best path for everyone. Modern tuition fees are high and there are plenty of careers that offer comfortable living and flexibility. It may not seem obvious, but if you’re not interested in college are currently enrolled and never realized there were other opportunities, Onomy has the information on some of the best alternatives to college so you can build a career without a diploma! 

alternatives to college

When it comes to continuing education, traditional college isn’t always the answer. There are plenty of reasons not to choose a four-year college. To address the elephant in the room, it’s an expensive investment. Student loans have become more accessible and financially manageable, but debt is debt and it’s not for everyone. It’s really important to consider the costs as much as you think about what you want to attend college for. The salary on the other side of your diploma is going to your first weapon against student loans and  you should be confident it’s what you’re ready to commit to before you pay for it.

Time is also a commodity and four years is a long time to spend on education. Even though, let’s admit, college can be very fun, both time and money can be in short supply for some and when you consider how much of both the average four year degree will cost you, it helps to realize there are plenty of alternatives to college.

For the 2021-2022 academic year current average tuition prices at a four year college is: 

  • $10,740 at public colleges for in-state residents 
  • $27,560 for out-of state
  • $38,070 for private colleges 

So, if not college, then what are the alternatives? It’s important to remember that everybody’s timeline is different and the traditional steps to a career do not apply unless it’s what you choose. There are several alternatives to college that can land you a great job in a rewarding career. Let’s look at some of those options. 

Trade Schools 

One of the best alternatives to college is attending a trade school. Trade schools which are also referred to as technical schools will provide you with a rewarding and in-depth education in a specialized field. Typically, trade schools offer programs for:

  • HVAC
  • Cosmotology
  • Nursing 
  • Electrical Engineering 
  • Carpentry
  • Iron Working 
  • Automotive Mechanics
  • Landscaping

This is not a complete list and only a sample of what you can learn in a trade school. The trades are a great alternative to college for the person who likes to be hands-on with physical labor instead of sitting in an office. 

Start an Apprenticeship

Another great alternative to college is an apprenticeship. If you’re unfamiliar, an apprenticeship is a paid program where you will learn on the job. Sometimes there will be classes paired with the apprenticeship, but most of your learning will be hands-on, and you’ll be paid the entire time. Some fields you can apply for apprenticeships in are: 

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical Work 
  • Truck Driving 
  • Much more

It’s important to keep in mind that when you’re an apprentice, you will be doing the job and learning from a seasoned professional. You’ll learn the in’s and out’s while actually working instead of needing prior requisites. 

Online Classes and Bootcamps

Online classes and certificate programs are growing in popularity as an alternative to college. Since many colleges have moved to online models, it’s possible to take certificate programs at home without being a four-year student. 

One of the most popular options for online classes is coding boot camps. Many traditional colleges offer a form of this. Instead of a degree, you will receive a certificate of completion to add to your resume. 

If paying for classes isn’t in the budget, if you spend a little time on the internet you’ll find plenty of free options. YouTube and other websites offer free videos that you can watch to learn at your own pace without spending a dime. This depends on what you plan to do, of course. If you are interested in copywriting, marketing, or website development this method could work for you. 

Dude, where’s my Career?

The bottom line is that universities and traditional college doesn’t interest or make sense for everyone. And there are plenty of options available for people to consider building a career that don’t require a formal degree. It’s all about finding what you’re passionate about. 

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