4 Non-College Paths to Take After Graduating High School
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If you're open-minded and a bit adventurous, you'll see the world is your oyster after high school. Your options extend beyond living at home forever or going to college. From joining the military to working part-time while studying, you’ve got options if you’re open to considering them.
There’s more than one way to create your life, so you might as well explore your options!
Not interested in college?
Here’s a list of four paths to take after graduating high school:
1. Alternative Education Opportunities
If traditional college isn’t the right option for you but you’re looking to start your career, there are still affordable education alternatives. Several online career training programs and trade schools offer just as much career fulfillment and earning potential as four-year degrees. Additionally, most programs are a quarter of the price and can take less than a year to complete, often in high demand industries like healthcare and IT.
Pros: The flexibility, cost, and length of online career training programs are a lot more attainable than traditional colleges, plus certifications can lead to lifelong, well-paying medical or IT careers.
Cons: The internet can be a rabbit hole when it comes to consuming information, which can make it overwhelming to pick just one program. Connecting with an advisor at your top-picked programs or schools can make the process less overwhelming.
2. Join the Military
The military certainly isn't for everyone, but it does offer a once-in-a-lifetime experience to travel, learn valuable skills, and meet new people. It also offers a steady paycheck, and it gets you out of your parents’ house as soon as boot camp comes calling.
Pros: As a service member you have a ton of benefits including healthcare, legal services, life insurance, education and more.
Cons: You are called to duty 24/7. Your contract must be fulfilled for the length of time you sign it, which is usually no shorter than four years.
3. Dip your toe into your future career
Not quite sure what career path you want to pursue? There are several industries that require little to no experience and will offer on-the-job training. Quick certification programs – some as short as four weeks – are available in industries like IT, childcare and healthcare. You could also try to get an apprenticeship and get paid while you train for a future career.
Pros: Get a feel for a career before committing time and resources toward a degree. These jobs often lead to careers and are a great first step, plus there are lots of job openings as people consistently move out of these positions as they advance.
Cons: Typically lower-paying jobs, there is a small financial commitment to get a certification.
4. Start a Business
Creating your own business means the ultimate freedom of designing your life. Follow your intuition, and create a lucrative business using your skills and life experience. Whether you want to patent a product or develop a service-based business, you can lay out the business blueprint however you like.
Pros: As your own boss, you can set your own hours, hire who you want, and make as much money as you wish. If you’re creative and entrepreneurial, the combination can lead to great success.
Cons: Business building can be expensive. Surround yourself with mentors to learn how to best approach your business set-up. Position yourself up for success by talking with people who have already done it well.
Create Your Own Path After High School
Your path may not look like someone else’s path. That’s okay.
If you’re asking what to do after graduating high school, it’s as simple as figuring out what you most enjoy doing.
Then, translate that into a way to earn a living.
It might mean more education. It may even mean taking a break from learning and just having some fun. However, you choose to do it, make sure it’s creating a return for you in some way — whether personally, professionally, or otherwise.
Interested in a job in healthcare or IT? Learn more about our certification programs if you want to get into a high-demand field quickly.