Career Advice

Alternatives to College You Can Explore

By: Jaya Seyyadri
May 26, 2021 • 6 min read

Looking For An Alternative To College? Here Are Some Opportunities You Can Explore!

Graduating high school is an exciting milestone for many, but it’s also the time to make big decisions! While the last few years may have been laid out for you, it’s now up to you to figure out what you want to do with the next chapter of your life. While most often decide to opt for college, there are many other opportunities out there – so let’s go ahead and explore these alternatives!


Are you not quite sure about what you are interested in or feel as if you don’t have a clear sense of direction? The solution to this may be allowing yourself to spend some time or taking a gap year to discover yourself and figure out where your strengths and passions lie.


Traveling is another great way to spend a gap year or take time off for some self-discovery. Some of the benefits include learning more about the world, picking up new languages, experiencing different cultures, and meeting people of different backgrounds! Your young adult years are the perfect time to travel and explore because it allows you to gain a global mindset – something that’s definitely useful in helping you adjust to any career or direction you choose to move on to.

person standing wearing red shirt


If you’re not quite sure where your passions lie, taking a gap year can be a great way to get a sense of direction. Service opportunities such as volunteering are fantastic opportunities that allow you to gain diverse skills and training while also discovering what you may be passionate about. Taking some time to volunteer can also yield great benefits for the community and yourself.

Here are two great options that include a combination of both volunteering and traveling.

WorkawayWorkaway is a great way to give back to the community while traveling with free-living accommodations at the same time! By creating an online profile, you can easily connect with hosts from all over the world. Depending on where you want to travel or what kind of volunteering work you want to do, you can reach out to a host to plan the details of your stay.

Teaching English AbroadTeaching English Abroad offers flexible and affordable online courses for appropriate teaching certification programs. After completing the necessary courses and fulfilling the right requirements, all you have to do is apply to the many teaching locations offered all over the world! This is a great way to travel and meet new friends and cultures while also making a powerful impact through teaching.

Entrepreneurial Endeavors

Have you always imagined what it was like being your own boss? Does the idea of starting your own business or being an entrepreneur appeal to you? Here are some great options to consider in the field of entrepreneurship.

Expand on a Hobby

Do you love to paint? Or have you finally crafted the perfect cupcake recipe? Hobbies are a great way to do what you love while earning money at the same time. Whether you start small or big, you can easily find ways to make cash doing and expand your skills over time.

Start a Business 

What may have started out as a hobby could potentially lead to your own small business! While starting an official business can sound intimidating, it can be worth the effort and hard work. You may feel like you need the perfect idea before you get started or have advanced business knowledge. But the truth is, anyone can learn! If you are someone who prefers to be your own boss and have a flexible work schedule, then this would be the perfect option for you.

alternative to college


As a mixture of a hobby and business, freelancing is a great job opportunity that combines your skillset and connects it with clients. Whether you are skilled at writing or experienced in certain subjects, there are plenty of side jobs you can pick up, such as blogging, tutoring, and more! By marketing your skills and yourself and building up a client base, you can earn a decent income from freelancing.

Content Creation

Nowadays, it’s very easy for people to get into content creation. Whether it’s uploading videos on YouTube, getting on board with the latest TikTok trends, or stepping up your Instagram page, many people have been successful through these outlets. The ultimate keys for content creation would involve creating engaging content, building an audience or fan base, and posting consistently. It may take a lot of time and effort, but in the end, it’s a fun and rewarding option to pursue!

Alternative Education

Whether it’s the cost, location, or setting, college may not be for everyone. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to pursue another form of education. Here is a list of some great alternatives to college to help you get ahead in the industry you are interested in.

Vocational School 

Programs in vocational schools help prepare students for immediate entry within their chosen field. They are a great alternative to college as they focus directly on the job you want, rather than requiring you to take electives and other general courses. Two types of vocational schools are trade schools and technical schools.

alternative to college

Trade School

Trade schools tend to focus more on hands-on learning that requires a base-level certification and on-the-job supervised training hours to pass. These types of schools focus more on labor-intensive industries such as mechanical and electrical engineering, carpentering, medical assisting, and more!

Technical School

Unlike a trade school, a technical school may have more of a classroom-style lecture along with some simulated job training. Technical schools usually offer associate’s degrees and certifications necessary to enter technical job fields such as information tech, life sciences, nursing, etc. Unlike traditional colleges, which take four years to complete, technical school programs are complete in only 1-2 years as they focus more on the chosen field instead of a broader core curriculum.

Job Training Programs

Not all jobs require extensive years of education. There are many careers that usually only require a high school diploma or GED< and a certification for proof of completing a job training program. Some of these jobs may include emergency medical technicians, commercial drivers, construction workers, and much more. These training programs usually only take around a few weeks or months. This is a great option for those who are time conscious and want to be able to start working early with a livable salary.

alternative to college

Take Online Courses

If you already know the field you want to go into or what you want to learn about, the internet provides a great source of information! Through online courses and educational websites, you may be able to find free or low-cost courses you could take over the internet. As long as you have the time and dedication, you can learn pretty much anything!

Get a Job

For some fields, education or higher levels of degrees aren’t always required. Some may opt to get a job straight out of high school. This is a great option to get early, hands-on experience. You will also be earning money for other plans you may have for the future.

Explore Entry-Level Positions 

If you have an industry you know you are interested in, you can start to get involved by networking with professionals in the field and applying to entry-level positions. This is a great way to gain experience at an early stage in your career and can help you determine whether it is the right path for you.

Find an Internship

Similar to getting an entry-level position, an internship is beneficial in the case of gaining early hands-on experience. It is a great opportunity to learn what it is like being on the field, and an additional advantage is that it is a short-term position of around 2-6 months. This low-level commitment allows you the flexibility to move and try out different industries to see what would be the best fit for you.

alternative to college

Join the Military

Joining the military is a respectable option that comes with many great benefits. It allows you to gain experience in intense physical training, serving the community and getting free tuition if you choose to pursue further education. Although it is a difficult path, it can be well worth the effort.

Discover Yourself 

After graduating high school, you may find yourself with way more autonomy, which is the perfect chance to get to learn more about yourself! That new skill you’ve always wanted to learn? A country you’ve wanted to travel to? That new hobby you wanted to pick up? It’s all out there waiting for you! By transitioning into the “real world,” not only will you gain new experiences, but you’ll also learn more about yourself and what makes up your identity. This is one of the keys to helping you get a strong sense of direction as you move forward in life.


Networking is an important tool regardless of whatever path you choose. It is much more significant than a simple business card and handshake. When it comes down to it, networking is the same as building relationships. It’s meeting new people, working with them, and developing professional and personal relationships. This is a great way to meet like-minded people and build a strong, supportive community for yourself to thrive in and open up doors you wouldn’t have thought to be possible. Some of the ways you could network include:

  1. Joining online communities to find like-minded people
  2. Reaching out to people in positions or industries you want to be in
  3. Keeping in touch with your current friends/acquaintances

You’ll be surprised at how many opportunities you can create for yourself just by talking to people.

alternative to college

Build Your Skillset

The final key is building your skillset. Even if you choose to no longer continue school, be a learner. Learn new things, gain experience, and pick up new hobbies. They will all be valuable in helping you succeed in whatever direction you choose. Remember, you and your skills are your greatest asset!

College isn’t the only option after graduating high school and is also definitely not the only way to success. With focus and determination, you can learn more about yourself, discover your passion, and gain experience in exciting fields of exploration.

Which of these college alternatives are you open to exploring? Tweet us and tell us your thoughts!

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