College alternatives to traditional higher education are numerous. Let’s examine just a handful of them.
A generation or two ago it was unheard of to not go to college if you had the chance. For good reason, college was viewed as a critical opportunity to launch into life with important knowledge and skills.
Nowadays, however, things are different. We have computers in our pockets. The cost of gaining information has decreased dramatically. College isn’t the sure-fire level-up it used to be. With so many college graduates now facing almost insurmountable debt, the consensus is changing. Maybe college isn’t for everyone, after all.
If your student doesn’t go to college, what should they do? Here are five college alternatives that provide a productive education and life preparation plan for your student that will save them from a lot of debt.
1. Trade School
If your student is interested in a trade, they should seriously consider going to a trade school instead of college. In fact, this is perhaps one of the most obvious cases where college isn’t the right fit.
The design of trade schools is to teach job-ready trade skills, not academic knowledge. If your student already has an interest in the trades, then you should encourage them to think about trade school as a productive alternative to college.
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Why go and pay thousands to take classes that you won’t use in a future career when you could go and learn job-ready skills for much less?
2. Apprenticeships & Internships
Similar to trade schools, apprenticeships and internships offer a practical education in skills and work experience. The added dimension with these, often lacking at a trade school, is real work experience.
Often, if an apprenticeship or internship goes well, it can lead to full-time job opportunities down the road. Building a relationship with a company and earning real-world work experience is not just a great boost to a resume. It can lead to some great long-term opportunities.
3. A Gap Year
Sometimes, rather than jumping into further education or a structured training program, high school graduates may find taking a gap year to be the most beneficial course of action.
A gap year is essentially a “year off” from formal education. Students usually take a gap year after high school and it may involve travel, personal projects, or full-time work. A gap year is a great option when a student doesn’t know exactly what they want to pursue after high school. It gives them an opportunity to try different things out.
You can read more about making the most of your gap year here.
Perhaps your student wants to own a business one day. Or maybe they’re just overflowing with ideas of how to improve life for those around them.
College has some valuable things to teach a budding entrepreneur but nothing quite beats actually doing it. Perhaps, instead of attending classes in college that teach business finances, your student would be better off actually starting a business and learning from experienced mentors and their own experience.
Admittedly, there is a lot of risk in entrepreneurship. But if you think about it, there’s also risk in going to college, spending thousands, and missing out on early opportunities to build something amazing!
5. Non-Traditional Higher Education
Finally, if your student is looking for a degree but doesn’t want to go deep into debt, they have other options. College alternatives include some programs that enable you to actually get a college education for less.
In our world today there are so many ways you can earn college credit through online classes, accredited exams (like CLEP), and other programs.
Ascend by Unbound is one such program. Ascend combines practical, hands-on, project-based education with Christian community, leadership training, and online college classes to provide students with a well-rounded education. Schedule a free consultation by March 25, 2022 to be eligible for $150 off enrollment.
Jace Bower is the Marketing Coordinator for Unbound. An Unbound alumnus, he has experienced firsthand the powerful advantages of doing college differently and participating in an intentional community. Jace graduated with his bachelor’s degree in History in 2016 and has worked in restaurant management and marketing since then. He also served on the Unbound Student Cabinet in 2019.
The author of two books and a semi-regular blogger, Jace can often be found doing something with words. When he’s not, chances are he’s reading about theology, listening to music, or playing pool or tennis with his wife Shannon in their Virginia home.