college-alternatives

Hey Kid, You Dont Have to Do College!

But Here’s What I’d Like You To Think About

Today is my 41st birthday. I’m sitting here in bed thinking at 5am about what I’m going to do today and what’s going to happen from today until my 42nd birthday. I’ve wrote about outliving my Father and keeping my priorities straight and reconnecting with family. But for some reason (I must have had a dream about it) I woke up today thinking about a college fund for my son, Jakob.

I’ve been thinking about my son lately and what type of person he’ll become when he grows up. What will Jake need from me to be successful in life? I’ve taken him on trips and we’ve seen some great sites. But what are the things I need to plan now for his success when he leaves school. One of the things I debate on and off is college.

Do I push him into college if he doesn’t want to? Do I show him alternatives to college that I’ve experienced or witnessed in my life?

When I left high school I had a ton of ideas what I wanted to do in life but no clue on how to get started other than college.

Teachers, parents and adults say:

“You HAVE to go to college or you won’t make ANYTHING of yourself”

I just thought they knew best and I did that. I changed majors 2 times and went to 2 different colleges. I started off civil engineering and ended up in computer science.

6 years after graduating from Dracut High School I found myself with 5 and half years of college classes and no degree. Now I’m changing careers paths once again and leaving school. Someone offered my a promotion from part-time dispatcher to full-time and $40k/year salary. JACKPOT! Where was the article in 1998 on Where do find a $100k job?

So that’s what I did. I never did go back to school after that and get a degree but it did teach me some lessons that I thought were very valuable. After 9 months of living on my own on Cape Cod in the winter I realized I could be stuck here doing this same decent job for the rest of my life or I could be doing something that I liked. I gave my notice, packed up my stuff just before the fun summer beach months start and moved back home to Lowell. Dummy!

So then I’m sitting at my Mom’s house at 22 years old trying to figure out what I’m going to do. What am I good at? What do I like to do? After thinking and applying for a bunch of jobs I saw a help desk position in the paper and applied to it. With a shiny new shirt and tie I went to the interview and got the job. I’m Canon computer’s new level 1 help desk representative. Great!?

alternatives-to-collegeMany people (including parents) automatically assume that attending college and graduating are the only ways to find a high paying job. Here’s a little known fact they don’t know about: high school graduates can continue to learn, earn money and work in a career field they love. Just like going to college, finding a high paying job depends on the love of a particular career interest.

For example, you may love acting and playing different fictional characters. Thus, you may decide to become an actor. Acting requires no formal education, just talent. The rest can be taught on the job. Talent is the prerequisite for many things in life.

Here are some career suggestions I thought of and are in no particular order. Remember, they are ideas to motivate you to think about your interest and career goals. Thus, these 12 careers are a short list of options:

  1. Fashion Designer
    Yes, becoming a fashion designer doesn’t require a college education. Yes, some designers do go to college. However, employers require:
    • Creativity
    • Good understanding of the clothing production process
    • Use of computer-aided design (CAD) technology
    • Portfolio (a collection of your designs that show off your fashion designing abilities and styles)
    Those things you can acquire without going to college. The first step is to gaining beginning experience in the fashion design industry either though an internship or working as an assistant designer. Many fashion designers work their way up the career ladder by becoming a chief designer, creative director or starting their own design company.
  2. Politician
    Do you love debating politics? Are you interested in changing the world—or at least your community—for the better? A career as a politician may be in your future. Becoming a politician doesn’t require a college degree. You do have to abide by your community, state or federal guideline requirements. Also, you must have solutions to problems facing the district you’re running in and be a:
    • Good speaker
    • Negotiator
    Many politicians start by volunteering at non-profit organizations. Often, they also volunteer on political campaigns to meet politicians and understand the process.
  3. Police Officer
    If you love criminal justice and catching the bad guys, you may love a career as a police officer or detective. Education requirements typically include a high school diploma. The most important requirement is graduating from the agency’s training academy. After that, you move onto the on-the-job training period. Although police department requirements may vary, you typically must be:
    • 21 years old or older
    • Great mental, personal and physical health
    Regardless of the police department you choose to work for, you’ll definitely catch the bad guys.
  4. Writer
    Becoming a journalist requires a degree. However, you can still become a writer. Whether you want to self-publish an e-book about traveling or ghostwrite articles for a client, you can do it without a degree. One requirement is research and knowing how to write. Many writers who aren’t proficient in grammar choose to higher or even barter with an editor. For example, you would write copy for an editor in exchange for him proofreading your work. How much money you make depends on your assignments and how much you work.
  5. Entrepreneur
    Are you a risk taker? Do you like making the decisions? Do you have the drive and determination to get things done? Are you willing to fail—at least once? This may be your career field. An entrepreneur is someone who, either as a sole proprietor or with a business partner, starts a company. Whether you have a new idea or want to start a franchise, you’re more concerned about the company’s long-term success than immediate profit. If you’re interested, you may want to start attending local meetings offered by business associations. This way you can meet people and learn the entrepreneurship ropes.
  6. Artist
    Becoming an artist incorporates a little entrepreneurship because you’re responsible for not only making your crafts, but selling them too. This career option is diverse because you can work as a painter, illustrator or sculptor. For example, you can make pottery or glassware. You can sell your items online or via a local retailer. The great thing about this job is that you’re doing something you love.
  7. Self-Enrichment Teacher
    As a self-enrichment teacher, you are an instructor who teaches self-improvement or fun classes like music, drawing, knitting or foreign language. Your class doesn’t lead to a certification or degree for your students. Typically, you teach at community centers, schools or religious organizations. There is no formal college training to be a self-enrichment teacher. You need to have an expertise. For instance, you love sewing, you may teach a sewing class.
  8. Jeweler
    A jeweler, sometimes also referred to as precious stone and metal workers, complete a combination of tasks ranging from designing jewelry to repairing and appraising gems. This career doesn’t require a college degree because you learn skills through a combination of apprenticeships and on-the-job training at jewelry manufacturing plants. The apprenticeship usually last about a year.
  9. Photographer
    A Photographer is paid to visually record an event or tell a story. This is different from a photojournalist who has a degree and covers news stories. As a photographer, you’re hired to take pictures at a wedding, photo shoot or portrait in your studio. You can take classes at a vocational school to increase your photographic knowledge. Like a career in fashion design, you need a portfolio of your work to gain clients.
  10. Public Address Announcers
    A public announcer works during entertainment and sporting events. For example, you instruct the audience on when to stand for the National Anthem or announce players as they enter the field of play. For other announcing gigs like radio or television announcer you need a college degree. However, to work as a public address announcer, you only need a high school diploma and on-the-job training. The training generally includes becoming familiar with the announcing equipment.
  11. Blogger
    A blogger is different from a writer. You are writing about your experience. For instance, you can write about your travels or different jobs. Many people have made a career out of blogging whether they are giving the scoop on a celebrity or offering advice about how to complete a task.
  12. Product Promoter/ Demonstrator
    Let’s wrap up with a sales position. Do you love talking to people? Do you love sharing your knowledge about a product like cosmetics, food or computers? Are you interested in traveling? Working as a product promoter, also called a demonstrator, allows you to do all those things. You may travel to a product show or local store and to hand out materials and tell an audience about the product.

To have fun working in a career doesn’t always require a college degree. It does require doing something you love. Remember, a job is something you do for the money. A career is something you do for the love and the money.

Do you have any suggestions of a career path that’s an alternative to going to college?

7 Responses

  1. Ellen Stockdale Wolfe
    Ellen Stockdale Wolfe at |

    Visiting your blog after you liked something on mine. Very interesting range of topics and great portrait photography– something I wish I could do but am too shy. Thanks for coming to see Moonside.

    Reply
  2. Trellum
    Trellum at |

    Hey Ken! Thanks for another interesting article! I dropped out of college a few years ago, but I decided to go back and get my major in accounting :) Going or not going to college has always been one of my biggest dilemmas! I had such a hard time going to college and trying to pick the right career for me, but in the end I think I made a great decision.

    I’ll definitely encourage my kids to go to college :) I’ll also try to see what interest them the most and will also talk about the different options they might have. I’ll try to do this while they’re still young.

    Reply
  3. BelvaM
    BelvaM at |

    That was an inspiring list of professions, many of which require a creative mind and/or an entrepreneurial spirit.

    It is so true; none of those professions require college. You do not have to have an MFA to become a novelist or a visual artist. In fact, the poet Anne Sexton was famously a high school drop out. I’m sure she’s not the only one, but she comes to mind.

    Yes, even future politicians can rest assured they don’t need an undergrad degree let alone a law degree. Harry S. Truman was a mere high school grad and still wound up as President!

    Reply
  4. NickJonathan
    NickJonathan at |

    I completely agree with this article. It is not a mandatory to go to college in order to become a great and known person. Yes, it might contribute to your skills, knowledge and reputation but nothing more than that. Let’s take Facebook’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer – Mark Zuckerber. He dropped out from Harvard University on his second year. He didn’t really focus on college stuff but more on his personal project.
    He “left” college and look what happened. He has the 2nd most popular website worldwide.

    Reply
  5. Samuron
    Samuron at |

    This is a great article. There are ways of being successful without a college degree. It just seems to be easier to be successful by going to college first. With a degree, you have a lot more options open to you.

    Reply
  6. tastefuldeath
    tastefuldeath at |

    Thank you for inspiring people who for some reason or another, can’t afford tertiary education. My significant other wasn’t able to study in college and he’s doing quite well with his carpet installing business.

    Reply
  7. phommt
    phommt at |

    Still being in high school, I’m still debating if I am really going to try really hard to get into a really good college or just go to a community college and transfer to a university or something. I really don’t have a plan on what I’m going to do in the future. Didn’t know some of these don’t really require a college education. I now know that I actually have a few other options than spend 4 year in college.

    Reply

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