3 Viable Alternatives To Getting A College Degree

3 Viable Alternatives To Getting A College Degree
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Going to college in the past meant that you were among the ‘elite’ of society. You were truly a rare commodity that employers would fight over. Your education would put you at an extreme advantage over the vast majority of regular uneducated people. However, having a college degree today is a minimum requirement with one in three adults holding a bachelor’s degree. What it boils down to is that your bachelor’s degree is not special. In fact, most traditional four-year degrees such as psychology, business, marketing or communications are relatively useless. Without going for a higher degree such as a masters or Ph.D. you are very limited in what you can do. According to Careerbuilder, a popular online job search website, 51% of employed college grads work in a job that does not require a degree. Now, that’s not to say all degrees are useless. Many degrees in the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) result in very high paying lucrative careers.

However, if you are not majoring in a STEM field, is it the wisest choice to shell out tens of thousands of dollars and years of your life for a degree in business? There are alternatives to getting a college degree that may work out better for you in the long run.

Learn A Skill On Your Own

The internet is possibly the most powerful free source of information to ever exist. Among the massive amounts of free blogs and educational websites, there are also websites in which you can buy professional learning courses for a fraction of the cost. Udemy is a great example where you can buy college level education courses from industry experts for a fraction of a college tuition. With all of this information online, why would anyone want to spend forty thousand dollars on a college degree that takes four years to obtain? Education is not a narrow process in which you can only learn by going to college — that’s a myth.

Become An Apprentice

In the past, many people learned skill sets directly from someone else in the current marketplace. For example, if you were interested in creating pottery, you would apprentice for a Potter. Apprenticing would not cost you any money — although, you may not be paid either. However, learning a skill without pay is far better than spending thousands to learn the same skill. Another massive benefit of apprenticing is that you learn relevant skills directly related to your trade. In college, you will spend nearly two years learning skills that have no particular correlation with what you are going to do for a living. For many people, these two years of ‘gen ed’ classes are considered wasted time and money. As an apprentice, you will also learn skills that you may not learn in college. Skills such as how to be innovative in a changing marketplace, dealing with customers face-to-face and tricks of the trade that your professors will not know or be up to date on (Academia is often a very isolating world).

Start A Business

College degrees are great if you want to spend the rest of your life working for someone else. If you want to work for yourself, a college degree is rarely needed. Unless you start a business that legally requires a degree (I.E a medical practice or law firm) your customers will NOT care if you have a degree.  I’ve run a few small businesses, and customers only care about one thing — the quality of your service or product. Also, starting a business is essentially the only way to become truly wealthy. Most top paying jobs cap out at a few hundred thousand a year after decades of tenure. A small business can make millions and grow into billions (and generally don’t require a degree to start).

So before falling into the default pathway of going to college — think about if it’s the best choice for you or if it’s what you want. There are other options, and sometimes those options are far better and far more rewarding.

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Trevor Freeman
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Trevor Freeman is a 30 year old entrepreneur, pianist, motorcyclist and philosophy buff. Follow him on twitter @trevorjfreeman.

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