Alternative Paths: University Isn’t For Everyone, and That’s Okay

As a high school student, the question you get asked a lot probably goes something along the lines of, “So what university have you decided on?” For some people this is an easy question, and while repetition may be wearying, their answer is ready and they are glad to share it. However, there are a large number of students who, for varying reasons, cannot or will not attend a University and earn a 4+ year degree. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The world requires many different jobs to function, and none are any more important than the others in the end. Just as we need engineers to design museums and skyscrapers, we need specialists who can create the parts and construct the buildings. Also, some people are simply not able to attend university, whether it be to a learning disability, a financial issue, or a myriad of other reasons. For those who may be wondering if university is not for you, here are some alternatives to consider.

  1. Getting your Associate’s degree: If spending hundreds of thousands and four years to work very hard to gain a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate seems daunting but you still want to have something, think about going for your Associate’s degree. There are many community colleges that are a much cheaper alternative to a four-year university, and you only have to spend around two years to get your degree rather than four or more. And with programs such as Running Start, you can get your Associate’s for even less, even sooner.
  2. Technical College or Trade School: Do you like to learn by experience? Do you want to have a job almost guaranteed when you complete schooling? Do you have a specific career that you know you want to pursue? Then a technical college or trade school might be the place for you. At a technical college or trade school, you will receive on-the-job education that will prepare you for a career in a specific field. If you want to be a welder, mechanic, a technology specialist, or something of that sort, a trade school is the place to go for you.
  3. Military: If you enjoy serving in an orderly environment and wish to do your part to keep our country safe, then you may be a good fit for a military branch. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, there are plenty of areas you can learn skills and serve with honor. Perhaps you haven’t decided upon a career yet, or perhaps you want to make the military your career, this might be the place for you.
  4. Travel: Have you always wanted to see the world? Do you have an interest in other cultures? Do you enjoy learning about the history of foreign countries? Maybe you should take some time and travel. There are many ways you can travel without breaking the bank, with programs that exchange work or skills for a place to stay to the Peace Corps, there is an option for everyone. If you want to live an international life, or maybe you haven’t decided on a career yet, getting out and seeing the world is something everyone should do in their life. Maybe now is the time for you.
  5. Start Your Career: Are you itching to get out into the world and start making money and living on your own? Perhaps you have a passion you want to pursue that doesn’t require a degree, and you want to leap right in. Either way, for many people simply starting a career right after high school is the way to go. There are many places where you can enter the workforce with a high school degree and good recommendations that aren’t fast food, now is the time to start building your resumé and collecting good references. Or for the braver folk, you can try the DIY way and become your own boss, using your skills and smarts to make a valid business and support yourself.

Sometimes it may seem like university is the only option to make something of yourself. But that is a myth. There are many options outside of university that can be just as prosperous and give you just as fulfilling of a life. Take some time and think them over; you never know where you might find your passion.

By Olivia Steele


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