Follow Your Interests: Alternatives to Traditional Colleges

More and more, we are hearing in the news and other sources online that 4-year college degrees are not as valuable as they once were.  This trend is due to many factors, and among them is the fact that students go to college simply because it is expected of them, not because they actually want to go.

In days past, students took aptitude tests that determined their specific interests, as well as their strengths and weaknesses, and then chose institutions that would help them hone their skills. Although many schools still use this method of determining what students should do after graduating high school, the current trend is to get students to at least try going to college first.

Why is this happening? One of the reasons is that schools are graded according to how many of their students go on to 2 and 4-year colleges and universities. Simply put: It is a numbers game. No one seems to follow through and find out how many of these students actually complete their coursework.

Many times, students who choose to attend college because it is expected of them leave within the first year. This is mainly because they were not prepared, in a variety of different areas. Their study skills are lacking due to an educational system that is in desperate need of reform. They cannot keep up with their classes.

Most colleges require basic coursework that is not only time-consuming, but many times completely unrelated to what the student actually wants to do.

Additionally, the extra two years completing these requirements seems like an unattainable goal for some student who are anxious to get out and start working.

Students must take an honest look at what it is that they want to do with their lives. It is natural not to have things all figured out at age 17 or 18. However, thinking about the future based on achievable goals should be encouraged.

Graphic design, web design, and anything related to computers and networking are jobs that are in high demand that no longer require 4-year degrees. There are many online courses and 2-year community colleges that can help students attain the requisite knowledge to be successful in their chosen field.

Additionally, the value of trade schools and vocational schools should not be underplayed. There are plenty of great jobs that pay well and come with benefits that these schools will help you locate after you have successfully completed the program. Many places help students secure employment before they have even finished.

Basically, college is not intended to be a one-size-fits-all endeavor. You truly need to evaluate your interests before taking the plunge. There are always other avenues through which you can acquire the skills necessary to achieve your personal goals and make a great living at the same time.

About the Author

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of the on line colleges. She invites your feedback at

Image Credit: IHMCSLA8B

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