So you’ve decided not to go to college.
This common choice is becoming more and more maligned in today’s society—but that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless.
Though common wisdom says getting a bachelor’s degree is the only way to be truly successful, reality says otherwise.
For those who don’t wish to go to college, there are several viable alternatives. These options can provide great pay, good jobs, and excellent quality of life.
And in the light of student loan debt and other pressing issues, it’s no wonder that these options are gaining traction.
Below, we’ll examine some of the options available to those who aren’t going to college, as well as some reasons why an individual may choose to forego secondary education.
Why Going to College Isn’t for Everyone
Before looking into options for high school graduates who decide not to go to college, let’s take a look at why this option is attractive for many people.
Avoid Student Loan Debt
The most obvious reason is perhaps that college is simply too expensive. Not everyone is willing to rack up an average of $30,000 worth of debt before they even get started in life.
Because this student loan debt is a major driving factor in post-graduate depression, it makes sense that people want to avoid it.
Failing to make good on high monthly student loan payments can leave even the brightest of graduates racked in debt with a poor credit score.
By avoiding four-year universities, individuals can bypass this debt and get started making money in the positives.
After all, no one wants $30,000 of their first dollars going to the bills.
It’s also true that this isn’t always a choice for people.
It may be the case that you simply don’t have good enough scores to get into a four-year university.
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And that’s okay. The truth is that university isn’t for everyone—and you’re much better spending your time in a place where you can get started making money.
The good news is that if you don’t go to college, you can get a jump start on your career. Because you don’t have to spend four years learning anything, you can use those years to start a career and move up in the ranks.
And believe us: we’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen college graduates who wound up in factory jobs making next-to-nothing because they didn’t choose the right degree.
And I’ve seen high school graduates working in the same factory making over $70,000 a year all because they learned a trade and started a career while young.
Which leads us to the first point …
Learn a Trade
One of the most important things you can do if you don’t go to college is to learn a trade.
Though these roles might have been traditionally frowned upon in educational settings, they’re starting to see a resurgence.
The truth is that the world needs welders and plumbers and electricians—and they’re willing to pay for them.
There’s no shame in getting an education is a skill that can start making you money. And because they don’t take as long to learn (which doesn’t mean they don’t take time to master), you can get started making money much quicker.
A trade will make you employable—and often for much cheaper than a four-year degree would.
Unfortunately, the education system still isn’t set up to encourage individuals that they should get into learning a trade.
Instead of pushing individuals to immediately jump into college, a better approach would be to inform everyone of possible trade opportunities.
The good thing about trades is that they can be picked up in a variety of cost-effective ways.
You may consider, for instance, going to a technical school. Though these schools will cost a little money, chances are that federal grants will pay the majority of the tuition.
That goes without mentioning, of course, that the tuition for these schools is several tens of thousands of dollars cheaper.
And because you only have to go for two years, you can learn what you need to know in half the time of traditional universities. This allows you to enter the workforce sooner than ever.
You can even start practicing your trade while attending school, in some cases, giving you the ability to make money faster.
But trade schools aren’t the only way to start learning. Consider getting an internship or learning from someone you know so that you can pick up the needed information in an even cheaper way.
Start a Career
In addition to learning a trade, you also have the option to simply start a career. Though this is something that will take careful planning before you jump into it, it’s one of the most financially stable options for those graduating high school.
Start by taking a glass-half-full approach. Though you may not be going to university, you’ve still got ample opportunities to learn.
Let’s consider the idea that your goal is to become a restaurant manager. If you’re straight out of high school, your path to becoming a manager will be different than someone who’s going to college—but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get there.
Let’s say that you start as a fry cook at the restaurant of your choosing. Though you’re at the bottom, you eventually start to work your way up through the ranks by showcasing hard work and good ability.
As we’ll see later, there are some certification options you can look into, but for now, let’s focus on the experience you gain.
Over the course of the next four years, you work your way up from a fry cook to an assistant manager to even a general manager position.
It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work and initiative—but you did it.
Are you really any worse off than someone who went to university and became a restaurant manager upon graduation?
No, you just got your experience in a different way.
Now, granted, life doesn’t always work out so neatly. But with a little effort and careful planning, you can use this extra time to get ahead in your career.
And when things are all said and done, you won’t be any worse off for it.
Move to a New City
This one might seem a little out of the box, so let me explain.
One of the best things that you can do after graduation is a move to a new city.
Yes, you might be leaving behind the only support system you have, but it’s important that you take a few years to grow.
Make sure that you’re going to be able to financially support yourself. You may need a roommate or two to do so.
A must read: How To Tell Your Parents: No College
At the end of the day, however, you’re going to want to get out from up under your parents’ wings and start to fledge out an identity of your own.
You’re never going to reach your full potential if you don’t have the freedom to be yourself.
Though you don’t have to stay in a new city forever, make sure that you stay long enough to gain new experiences and insight.
You may learn to see the world in a way that you wouldn’t have before, and this extra experience can go a long way in helping you make better decisions.
You may even consider going to a bigger city where there’s more opportunity. This is especially true if you’re coming from a small-town background.
If you’ve lived in the same place all your life, it can be difficult imagining that people in other places don’t live the same way you do.
However, getting this extra perspective can allow you to better understand the people you meet and allow you to better connect with others in your career.
This is an invaluable skill as you look to grow as both a person and as a professional.
Make sure that you take opportunities to get the most out of your new stay. Learn to meet people and do things that you wouldn’t be able to do in your hometown so that you can start to grow.
Though you may not be comfortable doing it at first, by getting out of your comfort zone, you’ll expose yourself to new ideas and situations that will help you grow.
Don’t underestimate the power that this has in helping shape both your personal and your professional identities.
So what’s the bottom line?
Get away from home. Move out. Learn to take a chance for your future.
Go somewhere that you’ve always wanted to go and do something that you’ve always wanted to do. Set out with a dream in your heart and a plan in your head. Though you can be sure that nothing will go 100% according to plan, you can gain invaluable experience that you can leverage to get ahead in your career.
Remember when we mentioned that there are certifications available?
If you really want to advance your career, you’re going to have to make use of them.
The good news is that there are so many that it’s not hard finding one that’s useful for you.
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For example, if you’re looking to do office work, Microsoft has several certification tests for their products. By earning certification here, you can set yourself apart from other applicants.
What’s even better is that you can study for these tests online. Though you’ll have to pay a fee to take the tests, this is an investment that has wonderful returns.
You can apply this to nearly any career field. Let’s say that you start a career in the
Though this might not sound like much, there are several certification opportunities that can help advance your career.
For instance, by getting a forklift certification, you can get a small bit of a pay raise. But don’t stop there.
You may consider getting SAP certification to prove that you have fundamental knowledge about the supply chain. With this certification, you can prove to your employer that you don’t belong in the warehouse—and you might even land an office position instead.
As you can see, certification programs provide people with extra mobility in the workplace. With several certification levels available, you can gradually work your way up the chain of command and earn a great position—all while never going to college.
All you need to do is stay committed to your career and carefully plan your moves. In doing so, you’ll be able to gradually rise above your coworkers as you make your ascension to the top.
It could be the case, however, that after graduating, you don’t have a career path in mind.
What should you do in this case?
You don’t really want to get stuck doing something that you hate for an extended period of time, but you also can’t afford to not work.
So what options do you have?
The most important thing you should do here is to simply get experience. Now, we’re not advocating job hopping here—but it is a good idea to test the waters with different careers to see what it is that you really want to do.
And in this regard, the experience is the best teacher.
There are many times when a certain job doesn’t live up to expectations—and the only way to know this is to try it out.
Because you’re still young, you have time to experiment a little to find out what’s right for you. Just make sure to do it in a way that’s productive, and don’t simply use it as an excuse to not have stable employment.
Job bouncing isn’t going to look good on your resume anyway.
With that being said, if you need help writing that resume, check out Resume Writers, they specialize in this sort of thing.
Instead, you might decide to work multiple jobs or a job that allows you to have multiple responsibilities. This way you can feel out what’s really right for you.
By following these tips, you can be on your way to enjoying a successful life after high school even without a college degree.