Alternatives to College: What to Do If College Isn’t for You

Most people choose to attend college for a full-time graduation course soon after completing high school. The college provides you with limitless opportunities for your career. Alternatives to college always come after that. Not sure what career to choose, going to college is the best option for them.

Many people are forced to go to college because of the trend in their family. Their parents went to college, so they had to attend college, too. The society also praises you for your college enrollment. College is the safest bet on your future.

However, a graduation degree is not a necessity for success in life. College isn’t for everyone. What to do if college isn’t for you? Most people sacrifice their passion and forcefully join a job to overcome their financial needs and support their families. Plenty of legitimate career alternatives available do not require a degree. You may still succeed in life without a degree. Yes, you read that right.

Alternatives to college

College Alternatives: What to Do Instead of College

Start Your Own Business

To start a new business, you don’t need a graduation degree. With entrepreneurship zeal and enthusiasm, you may start your own business in the field of your interest. The fact is that most successful entrepreneurs are not graduates. You don’t need to learn lessons for business. Neither do you need a big investment for your business? Failures are the best lessons learned while doing business. You can start with a small business with less manpower. You can also start an online business with a computer and an internet connection. You can take online business training from business consultants.

You need to solve barriers with logical thinking skills and strengthen your network for business. A perfect business plan is required to conquer the battle. Most businessmen don’t become successful at the very first attempt. They fail and try to bounce back, solving those hindrances coming their way.

Some famous worldwide names of such entrepreneurs are:

  • Bill Gates, Co-founder of Microsoft Corporation
  • Steve Jobs, CEO & co-founder of Apple Inc
  • Walt Disney, Founder of the Walt Disney Company
  • Michael Dell, Founder & CEO of Dell Technologies
  • Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook
  • Matt Mullenweg, Founder of WordPress
  • Charles Culpeper, Founder & CEO of Coca Cola
  • Evan Williams, Co-founder of Twitter
  • Henry Ford, Founder of the Ford Motor Company

The list of such successful entrepreneurs is large; many do not have a college degree.


  • Starting your own business needs no 9 am to 5 pm work.
  • You are the boss of your own company.
  • You work for yourself, not for others. You are the master of your destiny.
  • Have a sense of pride in building an empire.
  • You don’t suffer from budget constraints like employed people.


  • You put yourself at extensive financial risk.
  • You may even need business loans, facing stress, to repay them on time.
  • With more stress comes health issues.
  • You need to surpass the hurdles with your thinking ability with the time commitment.
  • The pressure of business growth is on your shoulders.

Become A Content Creator

You don’t need a graduation degree to become a content creator. If you have some sort of talent, then try to showcase your talent to the audience. Ironically, college grads and professors even watch for such content online. You may entertain the audience of all age groups. The work of content creators is to create unique content to engage the audience. You must be sure of what field to work in for content creation.

As a content creator, you may start writing blogs, start your own YouTube channel, start podcasts and webinars, write e-books, infographics, and many more. You may start your blog if you are interested in writing and have good writing skills. If you like to be in front of the camera, start your video blogs, known as vlogs, with unique content engaging the targeted audience. Likewise, you may start your podcast if you love talking to people. Contents may include traveling, food, lifestyle, cooking, adventure, influencers, etc.

You must create new and unique content that attracts most people. Try to present your ideas uniquely. The more the audience engages with you, the more income comes your way. By doing this work, you will develop skills like personality development, time management, logical thinking, and good communication.


  • You are the boss. Flexible work hours.
  • Endless scope in the future. Contents are never-ending in the entire world.
  • Retire whenever you want.


  • Earning a stable income would take a long time.
  • It takes time to gain loyalty.
  • Awareness of advanced technologies.
  • Risk of losing the audience with poor content.

Enroll in An Online Course

With the internet booming, you can take online education, which is economical, saves time, and allows you to learn anything you want to learn.

Online classes are almost free or cost as much as a cake. Harvard’s edX program provides a list of courses you can study online and for free.

You don’t need to attend college for four years. You can study online while sitting back at home at your leisure. You get all the knowledge in the desired field and develop skills for career enhancements. You can attend classes while residing at any place. You can develop skills at a faster pace within a short duration of time. All you need is a computer and an internet connection. You can save other expenses like travel, accommodation, and high college fees for on-campus study.

Online classes are in demand worldwide for their quality education, which is free or has very few fees in some courses. You can choose any course of your choice without going to college. Your earnings might differ from those of full-time college students.


  • Flexible study timing.
  • The course fee is free or costs much less.
  • Develop time management skills.
  • Get connected to people across the world.


  • No college environment.
  • You need to do self-study.
  • Employers prefer full-time college students over online students.

Start A Job

Yes, you can start doing a job right after completing high school. There are various jobs available for high school grads. You can choose any field which suits your interests. You may gain knowledge and experience at an early age. It would benefit you in future employment.

There are many occupations that you can start:

  • Computer coder
  • Physical trainer
  • Loan agent
  • Massage therapist
  • Commercial pilot
  • Casino manager
  • Web designer
  • Insurance sales
  • Criminal detective
  • Optician
  • Power plant operator
  • Medical representatives
  • Farmer


  • You will gain practical knowledge and technical skills.
  • You will get an opportunity to reinvent yourself.
  • You will achieve financial freedom.


  • You will stay behind your friends as they graduate after completing high school.
  • Limited opportunities.

Join An Internship

If you are looking for options other than college, then join an internship. Many companies are offering internships without a pre-requisite for a graduation degree. You can just prove your talent and get started with the internship. Your experiences will lead to a path to a successful career. Internships are offered in various fields. You may select your area of interest and gather knowledge working there. Internships are a great source of learning without attending college.

Internships after graduation are very common, but not every student chooses one after high school. You may prefer doing internships in various fields before entering college. Doing internships before college increases your chances of getting college admission. It is highly beneficial for students to gain experience and do better in their graduation. You become more intellectual compared to your peers. You have plenty of years ahead of you, so why not do internships that may suit you?

Peter Theil, a billionaire, gives $100,000 for fellowships to 20 adults who want to do new things without going to college.


  • It gives you job experience.
  • You get valuable experiences in your choice of field.
  • Showcase your skills.
  • Higher chances of employment as the word ‘internship’ is more appealing to an employer. 


  • A familiar truth is that the interns are treated as assistants.
  • You might be bullied and harassed by other employees.
  • Maybe low self-esteem and lack of confidence.

Leverage a gap year

Leverage A Gap Year

After passing high school, many students want a year off before continuing further studies. Students may do internships, travel abroad, or volunteer in a gap year. Every high school student undergoes tremendous pressure to secure good grades. Some don’t want to join college immediately after passing high school. If they are unsure about what to do in life or select which stream of education to pursue, a gap year increases their thinking ability. They get to know what they want to do in the future. Take a gap year, consider all the facts and fiction, and choose a suitable career option that interests you.


  • It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience to discover yourself.
  • With productive work in a gap year, your CV might appeal to the employer.
  • Students with a gap year secure higher GPAs compared to their peers.


  • You could waste valuable time.
  • You could suffer from academic momentum as your other friend may be one year ahead. 

Attend A Community College

Not willing to spend four years in college? You can join a community college to gain an associate’s degree in two years. Courses at community college cost less. So, you can save money without levying debts on the family. You may soon start a job and help with your family’s financial requirements. They are offered flexible class timings with less workload. Students can transfer their credits from community college to a four-year college and continue their education in a four-year college if they wish to do so. Students with poor grades in their high school can attend community college and improve their GPA to get admission to a four-year college.

After gaining an associate’s degree, you may start working as:

  • Police officer
  • Nurse
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Therapist
  • Paralegal
  • Air traffic controller
  • Other jobs that require an associate’s degree


  • Shorter duration course.
  • Earning an associate’s degree from a traditional college is cost-effective.
  • Early employment.
  • Employers are increasing the demand for associate’s degree holders.


  • Less involvement from the students.
  • Limited course options.
  • Less practical knowledge.
  • You will miss the college experience.

Attend A Trade School

If you are not interested in attending a college for a four-year course, trade school is another option. Trade schools are commonly called technical or vocational schools. It takes two years or less to complete a course from a trade school. Trade schools offer training in various fields. You may learn carpentry, painting, welding, construction, auto mechanics, landscaping, masonry, and more.

You may start your career in the desired field right after completing your course. It is cost-effective as training you in the desired field takes less time. The strength of a class is smaller. It gives you flexibility in training and better communication between you and teachers. There is a high demand for such trainees. They are skilled in a particular field, which attracts employers to select them for particular tasks.

You can join a trade school at any time you prefer. They have the easiest admission process with merely some requirements. Graduation in college increases your knowledge and other personality developments lacking in trade schools. On average, graduates from trade school earn $42,000, just $6,000 less than college graduates.


  • Low cost and less time.
  • Flexible timing for classes.


  • Limited job opportunities.
  • You will gain limited knowledge.
  • Less competitive edge among students.

Become a realtor - Alternatives to college

Become A Realtor

You don’t need a graduation degree to become a realtor or real estate agent. The real estate sector is booming at a rapid pace, so the need for real estate agents is demanding. It is quite a popular option among other college alternatives. You don’t need to attend lectures in college to help people buy and sell their properties. You must know the laws of buying and selling properties in your area.

Real estate agents are just mediators between a buyer and a property seller. You just need good communication skills to close the deal at the best price. In the satisfaction ranking, the real estate agents stand in the 39th position.

In the United States, real estate agents must acquire a brokerage license to work in this sector. You must spend around a thousand dollars to become a licensed real estate agent. You need to have strong time-management skills. You are dependent on clients. You may need to arrange meetings when they have their free time. It may be unusual on weekends, evenings, or during lunchtime during office hours. Your income potential is directly proportional to your hard work and commitments.


  • You are free to choose which property to deal with.
  • You feel responsible for your genuine advice to the clients, gaining their appreciation and loyalty.
  • You may grow your network beyond limits.
  • Real estate agents get acknowledged with due respect at social events. 


  • You are dependent on the amount of sales.
  • You may have to wait for months to get your cheque.
  • Recession may be a nightmare for you.  The deal needs to be closed to get your commission.
  • You have to meet different types of people.
  • Some may be annoyed by rude behavior, but you have to bear with your patience to meet your goals.

Become A Volunteer

You need no graduation certificate to join any charity organization. You can start working with those organizations right after completing high school. Many people complete their graduation to become social workers. That is unacceptable, as they wasted their four years in college, while you may become a social worker before that. These experiences will help you in your entire work life, building your character. You will make new connections. You will learn new skills for a bright future.

No one can forget Jesus and Mother Teressa. They never went to college. Their work for people with a kind heart is known to the entire world.

You may choose to volunteer for a year or more until you decide your path.


  • You will register personal growth with improved health.
  • Excellent communication skills with learning ability will help to prosper in the future.


  • You may get emotionally attached while working with children or abandoned senior citizens.
  • You may get deeply involved in any service and want other people to join, too, causing frustration.

Join the Military

This is a good option for people who want to opt for one of the alternatives to college. The military has various branches to choose from, including the Army, Air Force, and Navy. You will get a stable career and valuable experience in a prestigious environment.

Every branch of the military has an academy. In the United States, West Point is the Army academy. Joining any of them will earn you a stipend and a free room.

After completing at least five years of training, the average salary starts at $50,000 annually. You get to serve the nation. You also get other advantages when you retire after completing twenty years of service in the military. That means you can retire in your late 30s and enjoy the rest of your life without being financially worried. The organization pays your travel expenses.

You must be disciplined and well-organized to continue your service in any military branch. You will become a mature man with a high confidence while leaving the boot camp after retirement. No college graduates can ever match your ethics and experiences.


  • Discipline in life.
  • You will get free health care.
  • It demands huge respect and a high state of honor in society and the nation.
  • You will get lifelong friends with countless memories while serving your country.
  • You can also avail of discounts on groceries, movie tickets, and other leisure services.


  • You get isolated from your families and friends while serving in the military.
  • You are always in a sense of danger.
  • You can sacrifice your life while being posted at war zones, a fact everyone is aware of.

Become An Artist

You should not consider going to a college if art is your passion. You can become an artist in many fields, like dancing, music, videography, photography, acting, painting, and more. If you follow your passion, you will be happy in life. You can earn money by following your passion with hard work and sincerity. You can showcase your creativity and talent in any field of art to become successful. You have to consider your work as a business, not a job, as your earning depends on the clients you associate with. You get to meet other artists and exchange valuable ideas. You are the boss. You are independent and create what you like. Work hard and believe in yourself to achieve success in your life. 


  • You can turn your hobby into a source of earnings.
  • Gain the attention of people with your creativity.
  • You can showcase your work in an art gallery.
  • You may get an appreciation for great work.
  • You can target people interested in that particular field and gain popularity.
  • You have flexible work hours. 


  • You may have a fear of rejection with your work.
  • You need a studio and art accessories, which would be expensive.

Become A Coach

Becoming a coach of any sport does not require any qualification degree. If you are an expert in playing sports like cricket, football, basketball, volleyball, or baseball, then you may become a school sports team coach. If you are good at any sport, consider that the only qualification to become a coach. Your coach may feel proud when their student becomes a coach with the skills taught by him. You may pass the knowledge and skills gained from your coach to the new generation.


  • You gain financial independence.
  • Teach young students to excel in sports.
  • You may get a chance to present your team at the national level.


  • You may lack advanced training skills taught at sports academies.
  • You may find difficulties in making young students learn techniques.

Write A Book

Stories are best explained by writing books. There are billions of people who love reading books. You can write a book of any genre. Writing a book does not require any graduation degree. If you are passionate about expressing your stories with a pen, book writing is your preferred job. Your book may get published by famous publishers. You may acclaim recognition. You may be able to meet other storytellers and bookwriters and exchange thoughts. Books are a never-ending article. Book readers are always in search of books with unique stories.


  • It costs nothing while writing a book.
  • No retirement age. You may write till your 80s or even 90s.
  • You may showcase your book at book fairs.


  • Little knowledge of book writing techniques.
  • Fear of rejection from publishers and readers.


Traveling also requires no graduation degree. You can choose to travel the world and experience some unimaginable experiences. Explore the world and meet new people, their thoughts, and religions. You get to taste various delicacies of the places you visit. Traveling is a dream for many people. You can refresh your mind after facing various life pressures. You may develop your personality by visiting places across the world. You will get to experience so many adventures while traveling.


  • Escape from daily life issues.
  • Create new friends across the globe.
  • Happiness would be your state of mind. You will gain spiritual knowledge.
  • You get time to reinvent yourself for a better future.


  • It is a costly affair as you have no source of income soon after passing high school.
  • You may feel helpless sometimes.
  • You may suffer from homesickness.
  • Getting an addiction to traveling may be incurable.

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