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Weekly Lists #51: Alternatives for college

So the dreaded back to school time has come around again, and although I’m quite lucky in that school doesn’t start for me for another couple of weeks, for the majority of people (here in Belgium at least), tomorrow is the big day.
Everywhere I look on the internet these days, I seem to be surrounded by “back to school”-this and “college-necessities”-that.

In all this back to school-craze, however, people seem to forget that college is not the only option available. As such some people might not actually be all that aware of what those other options might be.
Now, whether you’re entering your final year of high school, or you’re just completely stuck on what it is you want to do with your life now that you’ve just finished that particular chapter – here are 5 alternatives for going to college!

I feel like I should probably start this post with a small disclaimer: I did in fact go to college.
Because for me, at the time, it was the best option.
However, I know a lot of people for whom that was not the case, but because there seems to be so much emphasis put on “college” as the only option, they got stuck in a route that wasn’t best for them. A friend of mine flunked out after one year, another started 3 different majors in 2 years’ time, just because she wasn’t aware that she could do something not-college.

What’s more – I am incredibly lucky in that I live in a country where college is relatively cheap, that my parents support me, ànd that for me all these options were exactly that: actual options, that I could choose from.

In other words: my writing this is by no means a bash on the college system – after all, I’m miles deep in it! It is, however, if you need it to be, a gentle reminder that college is not the only option you have once high school is over – and you shouldn’t feel as if it is!

1. Going to work

Now, of course, what kind of work you’ll be able to do depends greatly on what kind of education you’ve had while in high school, but if you feel that, rather than continuing to study, working is what is best for you – that is an option.
Be aware, however, of the fact that your schooling will determine what type of job you can apply to.

2. Travel

Maybe you don’t feel quite ready for college, maybe you’d like to see more of the world before you settle down, maybe you’ve just always wanted to travel.
Whatever might be the case, the moment you’ve left high school is certainly a great time to do so!
You can combine this with the following point, you can work wherever you are to sponsor yourself, maybe you’ve already saved up to travel, …
It’s a cliché because it’s true: there’s no time like the present, and certainly where travelling with complete freedom is concerned, that is the truth!

3. Volunteer / unpaid internship

Maybe you feel like you’re not quite ready to decide what you “want to do for the rest of your life”, and you’d like to get a feel of what your chosen field might be like?
Maybe you want to start your career with a foot between the door by building up your network before you even start college?
Maybe you want to build up your CV?
Maybe you just genuinely want to make the world a better place?
Either way, now’s the moment to do it!

4. Take some classes

So it’s not that you’re totally against the idea of college, it’s just that you’re not quite sure you’re completely ready for it yet, or you don’t have the money to do it full time right now, or…
Then it’s always an option to choose to take only a couple of classes right now, possibly combining this with any of the other points listed, and give yourself some time to ease into it!
Most every college allows you to collect some ‘credits’ by taking just the one course, rather than necessarily taking the entire major, and a large number of classes can even be taken via internet!
Plus: this way you might actually get a chance to find out whether that general domain is really what you want to focus on before “pinning yourself down to it”!

5. Alternate ways of education

Maybe you’d like to know what it’s like to go to high school in a completely different country? Then do AFS!
Maybe you’d like to master some French and perfect your Spanish? Try EF!
Maybe your country offers alternatives to college, with trainings that only take from a couple of months to a year, and really prepare you for a practical job?
There are so many ways to educate yourself that are not college, but quite often these tend to be forgotten when you’re told what your options are after high school – get out there and look them up! You might find the perfect education for you!

Either way, no matter what your final decision will be, whether you want to do any of these and then go to college after all, whether you start out in college and then realise it’s not for you and you go to any of these or even if you find another option?
Find the thing that will allow you to find the best in yourself ànd that will make you happy. If that’s college? Brilliant! If it’s not? That’s awesome too!
Whatever you do? Don’t get yourself stuck on the thought that the only right track is the one leading towards college – you might be missing out on some of the best experiences of your life…


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