Monday, March 18, 2019

College Alternatives

It's college season but with all of the scandal over rich parents trying to bribe their kids into top schools, it's kind of cast some shade on alternatives, especially for kids who may not want to go to college or may not do well in college.  Here are some alternatives to going to college:

  1. Take a gap year.  For kids who want to take a break between high school and college, a gap year might be their best option (even Malia Obama did this!).
  2. Work first until they know exactly what they want to do.  Some kids have no idea what they want to do after high school and rather than wasting money and switching majors a half dozen times, some students may want to work until they figure out what to do for their future.
  3. Join the military.  If nothing else, they will get some adult experience, learn responsibility, and get help paying for college through the GI Bill program.
  4. Get into an apprenticeship program.  Some kids are way more technically oriented than college oriented.  Also, there are lots of technical jobs going unfilled because fewer students are going into apprenticeships after high school.  Apprenticeship programs are a great way to learn skills that will get them a good job later.
  5. Look into Job Corps.  For kids who crashed and burned through high school, an option to finish school, get a GED, and learn job skills may lie in joining Job Corps.
  6. Start a business.  For kids who are more entrepreneurial than college-oriented, starting a small business might be a better option than going to college.
  7. Travel.  Again, for kids who are undecided, traveling the world after high school, whether to do volunteer humanitarian projects or hike the Pacific Crest Trail, may give them time to figure out what they want to do in their future.
  8. Get a Thiel.  The Thiel Fellowship, along with other contests and awards, are a unique way to do something other than college right after high school.
  9. Get an internship.  There are many internships that high school students can apply for.  As in this example, an internship is a great way to see if the career path you are interested in is right for you (imagine going all the way through pre-med only to find out blood makes you faint!).
  10. Other options: I know one girl who took over the family business after high school instead of going to college, other kids just hang out instead of going on to college (not recommended, I know one lady whose son is still just hanging out not doing much of anything at 30 years old!), one guy I went to high school with won a radio contest years ago the summer after high school and gets something like $1000 per week for life (he didn't go on to college), another guy goes around doing food challenges as his "career" (eeekkk).


  1. Nice post. My daughter looked at several options and I know many of her friends are indeed taking the year to figure out longer term by working. I don't know of any that have the means or support to do a true travel year, but they intend to visit friends at various colleges, plus save as much of their earnings to help as a cushion once they do decide what the best course is. One size doe snot fit all.

    1. Best of luck to your daughter! It's great to see kids figuring out what works for them instead of going lockstep into a path they may not like in the future.