What if a 4-year college isn’t for me?

Let’s be real, college isn’t for everyone. Some people love school, like myself, and some people go because they feel they should (social pressure) or their parents make them. But what if, like for real, college isn’t for you?

There are a lot of blogs out there about going to college and the reasons to go or not to go. However, when it comes down to it, go to college if you really want to, think it will benefit you career wise and/or you just love school. Some professions require a college degree (i.e. doctor, lawyer, engineer); some a degree from a vocational (trade) school (i.e. chef, massage therapy, nurse), and some are “learn on the job” professions (i.e. retail, food/beverage industry, tattoo artist). Whatever your career path, there are steps to take in order to make sure you will be successful in your field.

While this could be a very lengthy post because there are many tangents to jump onto and rabbit holes to fall down, I’ll keep it short and succinct. Aside from the below suggestions, many people take a gap year after high school to gain experience, cultural or other. The last thing you want to do is to embark on college, acquire mounds of debt and realize that an alternate path would have been more useful, and less expensive.

Do research to understand what training is needed in your field

Seriously, do the research and don’t assume all professions require a 4-year degree. There are other ways to go about getting a degree, certificate or the required training without spending an arm and a leg on going to college. Keep in mind that college tuition has increased exponentially from 1989-2019 . “The average tuition and fees tripled at public four-year and more than doubled at public two-year and private nonprofit four-year institutions, after adjusting for inflation.” This isn’t to discourage, it’s to inform you. So really, do your homework before you dive into college and acquire, what feels like, a never-ending loan payback!

Consider on-the-job experience 

Think about it, you spend an average of 4 years in college, but would that time be better spent gaining REAL WORLD experience instead? This goes hand in hand with the above….DO YOUR RESEARCH! Again, some professions require a degree while others offer on the job training that can often prove more beneficial than a post-high school degree. Also, consider getting a job or internship in your field during school, should you decide college is the path for you.

Some people just are not college material

Not everyone is meant to head down that good ‘ole college path. If you know now that the career you want doesn’t require a degree, then don’t waste time, money or energy going to a 4-year university if it will not benefit you in the long run, find another path. Vocational, or trade, schools are just as lucrative, especially for a specialized field. For example, do you love cooking and are considering becoming a chef? Check out trade schools for a degree in culinary arts. Again, tied to the first one…do your research.

There are long term benefits of going to college

Now there are other reasons to either consider going to a 4-year college or not and I’m not trying to convince you of one way or the other. I went to a 4-year college and then graduate school years later, so I’m one of the school lovers. Keep in mind that those with a 4-year degree from a college or university get paid more over their lifetime than those without that degree, but don’t let that be your driving factor. There are plenty of incredibly financially successful people without college degrees.

So the bottom line is this: find something you love to do and that fulfills you. Do your homework and research the best path for the career you want. Reach out to people in a similar field. See how they got there and if they have advice for you. You might be surprised at what, or who, you find.

FindMino – Get inspired

Finding the right major is a challenge for all of us. FindMino is here to inspire you and help you discover the right path – and at least reduce the amount of times you would change majors. See below for some suggestions.

Check our other blogs related to career advice here.

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