There are numerous successful people that have never graduated and opted for alternatives to attending college. In fact, one of my close friends has been very fortunate in business. One of the richest guys I know, and he never attended college after high school. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs both dropped out of college to focus on their passion. Oprah Winfrey left college early to start her career in media. Whole Foods founder John Mackey made dropping out of college a habit and did it many times. The world’s youngest female billionaire, Elizabeth Holmes, dropped out of her sophomore year in college to focus on her company Theranos.

With college tuition rising almost yearly, other choices should be considered. According to Complete College America and the Department of Education, students are now spending an average of six years in college. Once the student would graduate from college, they would be in debt over $100,000 already. Welcome to adulthood, kid! You’ll be paying off your student loans for the rest of your life. And the amount of interest on these student loans will have you paying a total closer to $300,000. This is something they never taught you in school.

We stress that every high school student needs to be going to college for the betterment of themselves. However, this is not the case and our advice to young people should include alternatives to attending college.

Most parents always stress the importance of going to college after graduating high school to their children. This has somehow been embedded into us as a society.

I’m not saying to tell kids to go ahead and backpack across Europe for a couple of years. We still want them to be looking toward their future instead of an unsupervised, extremely lengthy fieldtrip. But there are other alternatives to attending college. Below is a list of just a few that might benefit the student much more than college.

Trade School

Trade schools are usually two years long and consist of the person learning a certain trade that they are interested in. Plus, this is one of the cost effective alternatives to attending college. There are numerous options available in trade schools that you might find attractive. Perhaps you have always wanted to learn about woodworking, so going to a trade school for carpentry would be ideal. Construction and welding are also solid career choices to invest in. Working in forestry sounds like that could be a perfect job for someone that likes to be outdoors with nature. All of these careers, and many more, are available through attending trade school.

Doing an Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship after graduating from high school is one of the highly selected alternatives of attending college. Apprenticeships are generally for careers that go along with areas of interest. You could become an electrician, plumber, roofer, ironworker, bricklayer, or even a carpenter through doing an apprenticeship. Plus, they pay you as you are learning with an average wage between $15 and $20 an hour. Apprenticeships are available almost everywhere. Just by doing a quick search online you will find some near you. After a couple years, you will be a certified professional in your trade.

Start Your Own Business

If you want to be an entrepreneur and you have a great idea for a business, then follow your dreams. You do not need a college education to start your own business. Make sure it is something that you are passionate about though. It can take a bit of money to start a business, but it will be less than what you would pay for college. In addition, many businesses operate entirely online nowadays. A brick and mortar store is not needed. It is simple to create your own website in a matter of days.

Join the Military

The military can provide you with guidance and proper work ethic in life. The pay is usually around $35,000 a year, but it increases the longer you serve. You can also have your college entirely paid for in some cases as well. If you need to learn discipline, the military might be the way to go. Of course, there is always the risk of being deployed to other countries, so there are things you need to take into consideration.

These are only a few options to consider in place of college, but there are many more. The world is quickly changing around us and the requirements for success is not what they used to be. Keep these alternatives in mind when thinking about your future or the future of your kids and students. One size does not fit all and we should be emphasizing that to the next generation.

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