Alongside the stigma of not having a Bachelor’s degree, the romanticism still persists that college is a place where young people must go to find themselves.

The fact is, there are plenty of cheaper ways young adults can find themselves. With college and university tuition skyrocketing and post-graduation employment on the drop, it’s a wonder why American culture still pushes young adults to jump right into college after high school graduation. Going to college just because it’s “What comes next” has landed the millennial generation in record-breaking student debt. Having a Bachelor’s degree IS a valuable thing. However, going to school without a clear understanding of what you want to learn, and what steps you need to take to reach your goals is a costly mistake.

Don’t know what you want to study? Don’t take on crushing student debt without a purpose. You can work towards your life and career goals without knowing what they are yet.

Here are three other options:

  1. Get a vocational license or certificate. Not sure what you want from college? Go to trade school. Learning a trade is a great way to ensure you’ll always have a fallback career and useful skills. Trade school tends to be less expensive and shorter in duration, and provides graduates with higher employment rates and more job security. Learning a new skill is a great way to get to know yourself and your learning style, and provide yourself a solid foundation for what’s to come.
  1. Internships and entry-level positions. Think you might be interested in a particular career path or industry? Try it on for size! Internships and entry-level positions right out of high school are great ways to get to learn whether or not a job or lifestyle is right for you before investing in the education needed to get there. Another added bonus with internships and entry-level positions is that you can work your way up, or continue working for the same organization or company while you go to school should you decide to.
  1. Volunteer! Intensive volunteer work carries comparable weight to a job on your resume. Instead of jumping into college, programs like Peace Corps, Conservation Corps, and Americorps offer the opportunity to learn skills hands on, experience new places and cultures, and get a sense of who you are on your own. These kinds of volunteer opportunities cover the cost of living and offer stipends, and even academic awards upon completion that help offset the cost of college later on down the road.



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