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College Alternatives
Here's the thing: college isn't right for everybody. Maybe you don't ever want to go to college. Maybe you're just not ready right now. You may be under a lot of pressure to attend college, but there are alternatives!

First, a defense. Somebody claims that you have to go to college. You just tell them you're joining the illustrious ranks...

 ...of nine U.S. Presidents, including:

...of very successful people, like:
George Washington
Julie Andrews

Even with a college degree, you may never achieve the same degree of renowned as these individuals, but you can be successful whether college is for you or not. Included on this page are some resources that may help you find another direction better suited to you.

 Some Perspectives
Plan B:
Skip College

The Case Against
College Education

8 Alternatives
to College
By Jacques Steinberg

"What's the key to success in the United States?

Short of becoming a reality TV star, the answer is rote and, some would argue, rather knee-jerk: Earn a college degree.


A small but influential group of economists and educators is pushing another pathway: for some students, no college at all."

Read more here.
By Ramesh Ponnuru

"People with college degrees make a lot more than people without them, and that difference has been growing. But does that mean that we should help more kids go to college — or that we should make it easier for people who didn't go to college to make a living?

... It has been estimated that, in 2007, most people in their 20s who had college degrees were not in jobs that required them: another sign that we are pushing kids into college who will not get much out of it but debt."

Read more here.
By James Altucher

"When I was 19 I won some money in a chess tournament. So instead of using that money for my college tuition I decided to drop out of college and buy a car. I bought a used 1982 Honda Accord. I drove it around for a few hours since they let me drive it right out of the lot. But when I saw my girlfriend and everyone else taking their classes I got a little jealous. I returned the car and cancelled the check and entered my sophomore year of college. But I regret it now."

Read more here.

Some Alternatives
Leap Year

Vocational/Trade School


If you're not ready for college yet, but think you might want to pursue academics in the future, or if you're in college already and want to take a break, you may want to consider taking a gap, or "leap" year.

There are a number of agencies that can help you find an internship or volunteer opportunity for overseas travel. LEAPNOW is one of them.

You may feel ready to enter the workforce already. If so, if you are interested in increasing your income potential without breaking the bank, a trade or vocational school is probably a better choice.

These institutions focus specifically on job-related skills, occasionally with some loosely-related classes to augment those skills.

Here are two sites, through RWM and through the State of Virginia, which list private vocational schools in the state.

Another way to get job skills while working, if you don't want to set aside time to attend classes, is through apprenticeship.

While an apprenticeship still requires a small number of classroom hours, the end result is a statewide journeyperson certification in your particular field.

Apprenticeships are regulated through the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry, and you can learn more from the department's website.


Military Service

Get a Job

If you're interested in traveling America and doing service or volunteer work, joining AmeriCorps can be a great way to gain life experience while helping others.

Even if you're not interested in pursuing college immediately, or if you're taking a break from college, AmeriCorps can be a way to earn money towards a college education, or forgive student loans.

For more information, you can visit the AmeriCorps website.

While a far more demanding path, military service is another alternative to college.

Whether you are consider a years-long career in the armed forces, or if you just plan on applying the skills you gain after a tour to work back at home, service can be rewarding.

Advantages for veterans include college assistance, among others.

The websites for the different branches of the United States Military are accessible through the U.S. Department of Defense.

All of these options require something other than just entering the workforce. You, however, may just want to get a job, and there's nothing wrong with that. If you're proficient at your job, opportunities for advancement may arise in the natural course of working.

If you're interested in getting a job, preparing a good resume and knowing where to look for jobs helps. Here are a few links to assist you:

The Purdue OWL Résumé Workshop.

Job search through, or via the search tool at