Alternatives to the Traditional 4-Year College

Is going to college for four years straight really for everyone? Not always, according to an Urban Institute study. One out of every four workers holding a bachelor’s degree is overqualified for their jobs. For many, attending college for four years may be a worthwhile endeavor due to higher career earnings. However, according to the Urban Institute’s Stephen Rose, “for others, the projected benefits of attending college fail to justify the reality many graduates face upon entering the workforce: jobs that do not adequately utilize their high skill level and that offer low wages.” Below are a few alternative options you can choose if you have decided that obtaining a bachelor’s degree is not for you.

Take Online Classes

With advances in technology and the internet, online degree programs are becoming ever more popular–especially for those who have busy lives or want to spend less money. You can obtain an online degree from anywhere at a low price because you will be able to avoid having to pay out-of-state tuition or spending gas money traveling to and from campus. You can live anywhere while still learning as if you are an on-campus student. Working toward career advancement can also take up a lot of time, meaning that you will already have a busy schedule with taking courses, working, and taking care of a family if you have one. Taking online courses allows for a more flexibility and balance within a program that you can complete in as little as two to three years, depending on what you choose your class load to be. Online courses will ensure that you have time to do other things you need to do.

Try the Self-Employed Route or Start a Business

Millions of people are self-employed and successful, even without college degrees. If you are passionate about something, you can always try to start your own business around it. If you are crafty and enjoy making items like custom t-shirts, accessories, or Knick-Knacks for your friends and family, consider creating a store in which you can sell to a wider consumer base on a website like Etsy. Your business may start small but can gain a large following and attract lots of attention allowing you to partner with the site in addition to making a profit from selling your items. If you are more into vlogging or making humorous video content, you can join the YouTube community. If you are passionate about video games, you can become a live streamer on Twitch. The possibilities for being self-employed are endless!

Attend Community College

A two-year degree program can be just as–if not more–fulfilling as a four-year one. For example, you can enroll in an Associate Degree in Nursing program that will teach you everything you need to know about the field from experienced faculty. In as little as two years, you will be able to practice safely and ethically as a registered nurse after passing an official examination! Community college is a great alternative to still help you learn valuable skills and earn a degree while saving both time and money.

Enroll in a Specialized Program

Attending a trade school means that you will get specific vocational training for the skilled career of your choosing. With today’s high technology vehicle industry, you may find yourself searching places that offer automotive & diesel technology degrees. You will be able to skip general education requirements that a regular four-year college needs and instead learn how to test, diagnose, repair, and adjust all components in the areas of vehicle engine performance, brakes, steering and suspension, electrical/electronic systems, heating, air conditioning, etc. You will be able to begin your career in the industry at once and apply your direct, real-world knowledge.

College is one of the biggest decisions you will have to make in your entire life. It isn’t for everyone. Don’t assume that a four-year university is the best choice for you, just because everyone else says it worked for them. There are multiple options that can lead you to success and the fulfillment of your dreams–explore them!

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Melissa Thompson

Melissa is a mother of 2, lives in Utah, and writes for a multitude of sites. She is currently the EIC of and writes about health, wellness, and business topics.