Education Alternatives to a 4-Year University

College studentBy Alek Sabin

It should come as no surprise to Americans that many young people are foregoing the tradition of attending 4-year colleges to obtain bachelor degrees, which has long been thought of as necessary for moving up in most career fields. While this is definitely still true for certain professions (you can’t become a doctor without going to medical school, or a lawyer without going to law school), a traditional 4-year degree may actually be a poor option for many people.

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve heard about the skyrocketing costs of higher education in this country, and it isn’t about to get any cheaper. Instead of struggling to pay for a degree that isn’t even guaranteed to get you decent work in most fields, it’s worth looking at the alternatives that are available to people who want to look outside of the traditional path of education. Here are some examples of things that can work, instead…

Trade schools

Man teaching students construction
Skilled positions are the crux of the American workforce. It’s behind skilled trade jobs that the robust American class was built. For this reason, many young Americans look towards trade schools to teach them a valuable skill that will come with a well-paying job in the workforce.

Applied tech-colleges and vocational schools enable students to fast track towards a certification in a specific trade, such as welding, woodworking, or landscaping. The average salary of someone fresh out of a trade school is only $3,000 less than the an average recent college graduate, and all for a fraction of the schooling costs.

Online education

If you still want to work towards a bachelor’s degree, but don’t want to take part in the traditional college experience (either because you don’t have time or you want to avoid the classic college culture of parties and study drugs), then online classes provide a terrific opportunity to work towards a degree on your own time. Many colleges are adapting to include an online department, which opens up access to more students and is great for self-motivated learners. Oftentimes, these online programs, while leading towards the same degree, are available at a considerably lower price to students.

Community college

If you are unsure of whether or not you want to get a 4-year degree, then it might be a good idea to get your general education classes out of the way at a community college. Community colleges are a low-cost solution that can help you get your associate’s degree, and then jump into a more traditional college, if you so desire.

Work experience

While a higher education is an excellent thing to have, the reality is that it might not be feasible for everyone to obtain, or even be the right decision for some people. For some individuals who know what they want to do with their lives, the 4 years that they would have spent in school are going to be far better suited jumping directly into the workforce and gaining on-the-job experience.

If there is one consistent criticism of universities today (besides the astronomically climbing costs), it is that many programs do a woeful job of preparing students for jobs in the private sector. As a consequence, students are entering the workforce with a wide base of knowledge, but a poor grasp on how to execute that knowledge in an efficient way.

Sign up for a service organization

Volunteer smiling at cameraWhile not everyone needs to jump into the world of higher education, right away, it is definitely beneficial for personal development to get out of home when you are done with high school. Seeing the world and meeting new people is a crucial step of growing up, and it’s important to put yourself in situation where you are able to leave the nest and learn valuable skills.

For this reason, joining a service organization can be a fantastic opportunity to get out and learn new things, all while getting valuable life experience. Examples of this could be joining the Peace Corps to serve communities in undeveloped countries, working for AmeriCorps to build communities here at home, or even joining the military, which can help you pay for your education decision when you are done.

About the Author

Alek is a conman who somehow tricked people into paying him to write. Whether you want to talk boxing statistics or Gilmore Girls episodes, Alek will fervently get into any topic that you are passionate about. On weekdays, you can find him eloquently babbling in tongues to businesses about their marketing. On weekends, you can find him daydreaming about hosting a wine-and-cheese tasting travel show on PBS. There’s definitely an audience for it!

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