Monday, 28 September 2020

With the cost of a traditional four-year college skyrocketing, you may be wondering if there are other alternatives.

In fact, college isn't a one-size-fits-all solution, and college isn't necessary for all kids. There are other ways to get educated and trained for a career, and many entrepreneurs have launched successful businesses without the benefit of a college degree. What are the options for parents who want to see their kids forge their place in the business world and kids who want to forge that place —yet aren't sold on college as the only way to get wise about the world?

You may be asking yourself, What can I do besides college? Let's have a look at some "not college" paths to getting a worldly education that don't involve a traditional four-year college degree.

1. Fund a business

Does your child have a burning desire and passion to start a business? The Forbes Billionaire list is filled with college drop-outs. With the cash you have stashed for your child's college education, you might consider providing some funding for your entrepreneurially-minded offspring. With the average age of Silicon Valley founders being heavily weighted at under 30, you could be investing in a real-world business education that defies every college or MBA experience.

2. Learn to code

With the average starting salary for web developers topping the $60,000 mark, ambitious students are already $30,000 ahead of that potential college debt from the minute they earn their first job. Tech-minded students can learn to code (for free) at Code Academy, direct from Google at codegoogle, or Khan Academy. There are also many coding "boot camps" that promise to teach students the skills they need to land jobs; tuition can cost $5,000 and up for the 8-12 week programs.

3. Real estate careers

Is your child a natural at sales? Many adults discover real estate as a second career later on in life. Why not make it a place to begin? Each state has its own licensing procedures for real estate professionals, making it an accessible career after a few months of study. Become a lifelong student in economic trends, consumer spending, architecture, and finance and carry it across disciplines like residential and commercial real estate.

4. Volunteer tourism

For the student with wanderlust and a yearning to do good, volunteer tourism (or voluntourism) is a compelling college alternative. Potential travelers can partner with not-for-profit organizations around the world for trips of varying terms. During these trips, volunteers learn new skills in exotic places as well as play a role in aiding the organizations and their individual missions. Volunteers are expected to pay their own travel costs in exchange for education and experience. It could be a springboard for those with aspirations to work in the nonprofit sectors. Read up on the adventure here.

5. Work colleges

Work-study is one thing, but have you heard of work colleges? These seven institutions allow students to work off all or nearly all of their college debt while earning their undergraduate degrees. Work colleges offer a compelling alternative for those who yearn for college yet find scholarships and general tuition out of reach. Learn more about this growing consortium of colleges in the U.S. here.

So, there you have it. Five non-college opportunities for students to continue their post-high school education, but on their own terms. The benefits to these nontraditional opportunities aren't just financial, either. Some definitely require an investment (just like a college education).

However, all offer highly tailored learning tracks for students with ambitions in particular areas. The best part, however, is the real world work experience each will receive — making college, should they ultimately decide to pursue a four-year degree — a well-considered decision with highly specific goals to advance their careers already in the making.


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