College Not a Fit for Your Child? 5 Fulfilling Alternatives

College is touted as the path to career and financial success. However, many young people do not know what kind of career they want when they finish high school. Some don’t want to go to college at all. This can be troubling and frustrating if you are a parent, but it doesn’t mean your child lacks ability or ambition. Forbes says to look beyond college as the ultimate path to career success. There are alternative roads a young person can follow that are also fulfilling.

Technical Skills

Many rewarding occupations require technical skills, rather than academic study. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics are first responders who save countless lives. Truck drivers carry the nation’s goods to their destinations. Skills like these are learned in vocational and technical schools. Locksmiths are another example. Trainees take classes that cover the basics of locks, key making, electronic locks and safe repair. Classes are often combined with on-the-job training. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics says locksmiths make average salaries of more than $42,000 per year.


Some jobs that don’t require a college degree are learned through apprenticeships. Examples include electrician, plumber and HVAC technician. Apprentices typically take classes and work full-time for four years to qualify for licensing exams.

Military Service

Enlisting in the military means a chance to serve our country. Although starting pay is low, job benefits include on-the-job technical training, food, housing, medical care and money for ongoing technical or academic education.

Volunteer Work

If your child isn’t ready for college, you might suggest joining an organization like AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps. AmeriCorps volunteers help disadvantaged individuals and communities across the United States. The Peace Corps does much the same in other countries. Both options offer travel and the chance to learn about other cultures in a real-world setting. There is funding to assist with living expenses. In addition, programs like the American Education Awards offer financing for technical or academic education.


An entrepreneurial project might not sound realistic for someone without a college degree, but you should not dismiss this possibility. Some of the greatest innovators of our time never finished college. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson are three examples. If your child has a good idea, this may be the perfect time to take a leap of faith. He or she is not yet saddled with the responsibility of a family, so taking risks can be more acceptable.


The simple truth is that college is not the best choice for everyone. For a concerned parent, this isn’t an easy circumstance to deal with. However, you might want to look at it as an opportunity for your child to discover what he or she really enjoys and cares about. That positive attitude can make a huge contribution to long-term career success.

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