There are many benefits of going to college. The most obvious and biggest advantage is receiving a Bachelor’s degree after four or five years of studying, and then entering the workforce, or continuing on to a higher degree. There’s also the benefit of networking with multiple people in your chosen career path by being exposed to different types of people on a college campus. But is college the only way to further your education?
It’s no secret that attending a private college or even a public university is extremely expensive. Grants, scholarships, and student loans exist, but a lot of the time grants and scholarships don’t cover everything, and student loans can be a financial nightmare. Fortunately, college is not the only way to further your education. Here are three alternatives to going to college.
Joining a branch of the Military
This is a very popular alternative to going to college. Many people join a branch of the military (Army, Airforce, Marines, Navy, National Guard, etc.) for education benefits. It’s widely known that the military helps pay for higher education, as well as paying off student loans.
You can still earn a good education through the military alone, without even having to go to college. Through special job training, you can become an expert in any particular field of work. You can even receive college credit, and most military jobs correspond to civilian jobs. This means that you can still find a job if you ever leave the military.
Online Courses or Trade School
These two options are probably the closest ones to attending college. Online courses are definitely more convenient than in-person classes on a college campus. You’re allowed to learn from the comfort of your own home, and online classes usually offer more flexibility.
Trade schools are just like college, except they cost less and you can usually finish and earn your certification and license in three years or less, instead of four or five years. You also have more flexibility, as trade schools offer multiple start dates. Colleges and universities offer one in the fall, one in the spring, and one or two in the summer.
You also can’t forget that there are online courses for continuing education for a particular trade you’re specializing in as well, and it doesn’t even require you to be in any type of school. These courses are typically for individuals who are already in a particular trade and are working to renew their license but they’re also a great course to take if you’re trying to obtain a license for a particular trade for the first time.
Volunteering is probably not one of the more popular ways of furthering education, but it has its benefits. Volunteer work allows you to meet new people and see life in a unique and different way, through the eyes of others. You become more understanding of other ways of living, and meeting and talking with new people allows them to teach you things you may not have realized you didn’t know.
Studies in volunteering have even shown that your cognitive functioning can be improved by volunteering. Results included an increase in memory functioning, as well as an increase in problem-solving abilities.
These same examples can apply to people who have graduated from college. Maybe you’ve earned your degree, but now you have a lot of student loan debt. A military is a possible option since they offer payoffs for loans.
It’s also possible that after earning your degree and working in your field, you’ve hit a roadblock in your career. Taking online courses and even volunteer work can help you learn new skills, and even inspire you to pursue a different career.
While college definitely has its benefits, it also has its costs— literally. For some, the actual cost of a college education outweighs the benefits, so that path is not always the best path for everyone. College does not have to be the only option right after high school, and higher degrees aren’t the only option right after college. There are plenty of other ways to further your education, you just have to choose which path is the right one for you.