Is College the Only Answer After High School?

Various paths like college, trade and technical schools, employment, or the military await high school graduates.

Various paths like college, trade and technical schools, employment, or the military await high school graduates.

It’s no secret that high schools across the country push for teens to attend college after graduation. While this is definitely one option, it is by far not the only option, especially if you already have an idea of what you want to do as a career.  Traditional four year colleges do provide a solid foundation that students can branch off from, but they are costly and they are not always the right choice for some students. 

Besides college, what are some other options for students? While they are not presented nearly as much, vocational schools are a great option.  If a student already knows that they want to do, or even if they just have a general interest in something, like mechanics, electricians, plumbers, cosmetology, etc., this is a great alternative. This is usually a lot shorter then a normal four year college, which helps students save possibly thousands of dollars. Some students are even able to start these as a high school student, eliminating even more debt and allowing them to start doing full time work even faster.  

Another option for students is to join the military. The military allows students to train, fight and serve their country while getting paid and having a stable job. Another benefit of joining the military is that they pay for a majority of your college education, if not all of it.  This allows you to get the education you desire without racking up debt.  They also provide benefits like health insurance and 30 days of vacation. 

Sticking with the idea of saving money, another great option for students is to go to community college after high school.  Community college is frowned upon by some, but it is a much less expensive option. For basic prerequisite courses, a community college provides an inexpensive but effective route that allows students to finish college there or transfer those credits to a different college of their choice. Especially if a student is undecided, it does not matter where the prerequisite courses are taken and then they can transfer to a more specialized college. This can let students live at home and save on things like meal plans or room and board costs, and spend time with their families. 

Although, if a student is undecided and wishes to take a break and still go to college later, they can! Gap years are an option depending on what you’re looking for. Some people like to travel the world and learn about other cultures while taking everything in. Others like to experience normal life without schooling and take some time just to work. Some people go to internships at companies. This allows them to gain experience and over time can result in people getting offered jobs, with some companies even offering to pay for college if the student agrees to a position.  

Much of this article references things other than the traditional four years of college straight after high school like taking a gap year or other forms of education, but further education is not a necessity either. There is the option to go straight into work after high school or become an entrepreneur and start your own business. Sometimes people just do not have a plan and find work wherever they go. Moving across the country or world to explore for even longer than a gap year allows people to learn things like new languages and cultures. This can be an important thing when it comes to finding a job because you have the ability to communicate with more people. This is all while exploring and having new found freedom away from the education system entirely.  

While traditional college provides a logical next step in life after high school, it is by far not the only option. Going straight to a job, taking a gap year, going to community college, or joining the military are just some other options that high school students have after graduation but definitely not the only ones. There are so many options to chose from and even if someone does not know what they want to do, they can still pursue something meaningful.