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Beyond College: 3-Degree Alternatives

With over 20 million American students entering college it may seems like every eligible person is using college to gain an edge in the work force. Interestingly enough, the persistence rate of those who complete college and obtain a degree is under 50%. There are many factors that contribute to a low persistence rate such as a sense of belonging to the university, financial and personality factors, ability to handle the academic rigor, and other characteristics. One reason that students do not complete gaining a degree may be because college simply isn't for them. If you think college is not the best path for you consider these alternative career choices before you find out the hard and expensive way.

1.) Trade/Technical School

One sufficient alternative to college is going to a trade or technical school to earn specialized knowledge in a particular field. These schools are not writing or critical thinking intense as they rely more on hands-on learning as a measure of success. They often have smaller classrooms and a more developed connection to local employers. It also saves times as some programs last for a couple of weeks and go for no more than a couple of years. Some of the programs you can earn training in include: healthcare, criminal justice, culinary arts, automotive repair, HVAC, and many other options.

2.) Start A Business

Really not interested in more schooling? Starting a business could be a great route, if you feel prepared enough to embark on this demanding endeavor. The average debt a student has when completing a college degree is around $35,000 according to a Fidelity Investments survey. This continues to grow after finishing school with interests rates on the loans taken to pay for school. While starting your own business could have the possibility of needing a loan to support start-up costs, it could be drastically less than what is pooled during four years in school. Plus the advantage of starting a business right away is that you would be immediately working towards generating income to pay off the loan, as opposed to waiting for a job to come along.

Starting a business has other advantages as well. You could start working doing almost anything you enjoy. If you like fashion, food, computers, games, or whatever other interest could be easily turned into the business. As long as a product or service is being exchanged for profit, then you are meeting the bare minimum standard for being on the path of business success.

3.) Work for Experience

Don't want more schooling or loans, then this final method of breaking into a career path may be for you. It's called finding a J-O-B and getting straight to work. There are many jobs out there that don't require a degree in order to be considered for the position. Firefighting, sales, and office administration can all provide work experience. Feel as though you don't have enough experience to get your foot in the door, then volunteering may be one of the most valuable skills that you can possess. Volunteering at local organizations can help you write your resume as you perform tasks related to your interests and the interests of the company. Volunteering will also provide you valuable references to include in your job search.

These are three basic examples of producing a living for yourself that does not include going graduate school. Completing college is not an easy or inexpensive journey, but neither are these paths. The all require your effort, dedication, and persistence towards succeed. The first step to figure out your right path to success is defining what success means to you. Once you have that the path you take does not matter so much, because you know your steps are leading towards your defined destination.


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