College Advice Blog

Dec 9, 2016

What If I Don't Want to Go to College?

What if I don’t want to go to college? Choosing what to do after secondary school is difficult. Should you take on apprenticeship training? Maybe a gap year is the right pathway for you. In 2016, there are so many different education options available, it’s hard to know where to begin.

For a recent graduate, it can feel as though each alternative is as unknown as the next. Without the structure and guidance of an authority figure, it is even more crucial to take the time to make a choice that reflects you.

If you love to work hands-on or don’t feel like the classroom is where you learn the most, academic study, despite being a popular choice, might not be the best solution. For those who have no idea at all, you’re not alone.

Over 412,000 people, aged between 16 and 24, are unemployed and no longer enrolled in full-time study. Follow these steps to make sure you choose the right pathway for your situation and career ambitions.

Why You Might Choose College
Applying to College means pursuing your field of interest through an academic degree, which can be a big financial and time investment. On the flip side, hiring managers believe that your opportunities are more broad, especially if you choose to study abroad during your degree.

Moving out of home to live independently is a huge draw card for prospective students, especially with the financial support that is made available. More than this, it is considered a rite of passage and the best way to fast track your career in particular industries.

Science and engineering, for example, often require an academic degree over an apprenticeship. In order to truly excel, postgraduate study is also available to those who successfully complete their undergraduate degree.

How About Apprenticeship Training?
Okay, so the academic rigor isn’t appealing to you! Not to worry, the good news is that there are many other ways to launch the next phase of your life. If you love to create and work with your hands, apprenticeship training could be a valid option.

Job opportunities in trade industries are widespread. With every 4 in 10 graduates wishing they’d taken a vocational pathway, it’s better to follow your passion from the get-go. Whether you’re interested in carpentry, landscaping or construction, pursue the field for your own personal satisfaction, first.

In the world of industry apprenticeship programs, practical skills and on-the-job experience are highly valued and can prepare you for an exciting career. If you choose to become an apprentice, you could also enjoy lower tuition fees, comparable to what is offered by most universities.

Getting A Job Straight Out of School
Not feeling either of those options? A full-time career might just be the best decision for you. Students spend so many years in the classroom, it’s only normal to be drawn to the freedom of the working world. Never decide on a pathway simply to follow the crowd!

Getting a school-leaver job does come with challenges, as well as great advantages. The first step is to decide what sort of employment you are after. Is this an entry-level job in your preferred industry? Or is it casual work to start saving for travel?

Landing a job in your field is not impossible, but you need to get your foot in the door early. Volunteer or secure yourself an internship with relevant work to start making industry contacts. The graduate market is overwhelmed by applications, so experience will give you an edge.

Deciding On Your Field
Okay, so now you’ve decided your direction - but where will you end up? Your chosen course and career are related, but not set in stone. If you choose to study a degree in literature, you won’t be limited to the one-time job of an English teacher.

Make a note of what you truly enjoy and forget about the career at the other end for a while. Are you creative? Do you enjoy working with numbers? Collaborating? Narrow down your hobbies and preferences and you should start to see a pattern, correlating with a number of professional industries.

If all else fails, a tried and true method is to enroll in a short course. Get a taste for the subject, before you make a long-term commitment. Short courses are offered all around the world and are the perfect opportunity to connect and learn with like-minded people.

Establish Your Deal Breakers
What aren’t you willing to give up? If you don’t feel comfortable moving away from home or studying in a cooler climate, this should dictate your decision. Compare your dealbreakers against the policy for student accommodation, study support and lifestyle. Some universities are more known for their global recognition or on-campus activities than others.

What Do You Want From Your Study?
A graduate degree offers many rewards; a professional world-class education, access to specific industries and unmatched networking opportunities. But is this what you want from your degree?

Some people claim that college doesn’t prepare you for the real world, especially not in the same way that apprenticeship courses can. But maybe that’s not why you’re choosing to study there. Maybe your friends are enrolling or it’s what your parents suggested. Perhaps it is simply the place you have always dreamed about.

There is no wrong reason to want to attend college, just do your research before you make a decision. And remember that whatever you choose, you are always free to change your mind.

Author Bio

Caroline Schmidt writes the blogs for Kangan Institute. She is passionate about education, careers, and giving advice to students of all ages.

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