Many high school students spend the first part of their senior year taking or retaking SATs, writing essays and filling out college applications galore. Those same students then spend the better part of their final high school semester eagerly eyeing their mailboxes, stressing out over acceptances and rejections and wracking their brains to figure out which college to attend.
But then there are those high school seniors who go through the motions of applying to college only to come to the eventual realization that college just isn’t the right move. For some, it’s a matter of money. After all, college is expensive. For the 2015-2016 school year, tuition at a four-year public in-state college will cost an average of $9,410 per year. A public four-year out-of-state school, meanwhile, will cost $23,893, while a private nonprofit four-year college will cost an almost shocking $32,405. Oh yeah, and those prices are just for tuition and fees—they don’t even include room and board.
Deciding to skip college could boil down to a numbers game. If you don’t think you’ll be able to recoup the costs of college in a reasonable timeframe during your working years, or you feel that a higher education just isn’t worth the price tag, then it makes sense to draw the conclusion that college simply isn’t for you. And if that’s the case, rest assured that your future is far from doomed. There are plenty of viable alternatives to college that you can pursue, including:
Starting Your Own Business
Perhaps you’ve got a great idea for a new product or service. Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of opening up your own bakery, bookstore or pet grooming salon. If you’re intent on starting your own business, college might not make much financial sense. Instead of spending all that money on tuition, you may be better off using it to fund your business venture.
Joining the Family Business
If you grew up watching your parents manage the family store, then it may not seem so far-fetched to think that one day you’ll be in charge. If you’re serious about joining and perhaps eventually taking over the family business, then your time may be better spent observing its inner workings and gaining experience in the field. College could end up setting you back and costing you lots of money for no good reason.
Going to Trade School
Whether you’re naturally handy or passionate about a particular trade, vocational or trade school may be a more financially sound option than attending a traditional four-year college. Trade school degrees cost about $33,000 on average, which is less than the estimated average cost of attending an in-state four-year college. But more importantly, trade school usually only takes two years to complete, which means you’ll get a jumpstart on earning a salary and repaying whatever debt you incur to become certified to work. Furthermore, you might make more money using a trade school degree than you would with a traditional college degree. For example, these days, a marketing assistant earns an average salary of $35,099 per year, whereas the average salary for an electrician is $54,500 per year.
If you’ve done some long, hard thinking and have come to the conclusion that college isn’t the right move for you, you may want to defer enrollment for at least a year to pursue a different option. Remember, you can always pursue an education down the line, but don’t make the mistake of choosing college by default. Doing so could easily mean throwing a whole lot of money down the drain for no good reason.