Not Going to College? Now What?


This post was originally written for and was posted as “Taking the non-traditional route after high school graduation”.


Most high school seniors are geared up for graduation next month and that comes with a good case of senioritis. The typical path for a large percentage of graduates sends them off to college in the fall to live in dorms, stay up all night studying, and pledge sororities and fraternities. But what happens when those high school seniors choose a non-traditional route that doesn’t include the typical collegiate experience?

Take a gap year

After 12 years of school, and more for some, many high school students are considering a gap year after graduation. That doesn’t mean you veg out on the couch in front of the television, or spend a year playing Xbox games in your parents’ basement. It’s a chance to expand your horizons and get some life experience under your belt before heading off to college. Gap years are becoming more popular among high school graduates and gaining credibility among established educators. Princeton University has a “bridge year” program in place for admitted students to do service work abroad before enrolling. High schools around the country are hosting gap-year fairs to familiarize students with the options available if they choose to take advantage of a gap year.

Consider entrepreneurship

TechCrunch recently interviewed, Peter Thiel, the founder of Paypal about what he calls the “higher education bubble”. His recommendation: take a different path. He has started a program for 20 students under 20 and is paying them $100,000 over a two year period to start their own businesses.  Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos encourages those who are considering spending thousands of dollars on an education to skip the degree and use the money to finance a business. While it’s quite common for college graduates to take an entrepreneurial path, the thought of high school graduates going down that road scares the pants off of most parents.

The downside to this path: not everyone can be the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg. It takes drive, ambition and determination to start and run a business. You need an idea, a concept, a product and the business sense to make it all flow together once you get started. Think long and hard before you choose this path and in the meantime, get some education to help you when you do.

Choose a military path

Many high school graduates choose the military as a post-graduation path. Although the prospect of heading into combat might not be appealing for some, others find this choice wise and honorable. The military provides training in many different career paths, along with the funding for a college education. Many servicemen are even attending college while they serve.

For those graduates who are confident in their path and are headed off to college in the fall, congratulations! But for those who still aren’t sure or are considering a non-traditional path, these options will be your ticket to the future.

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One Response to “Not Going to College? Now What?”

  1. Roberta says:

    Thanks Suzanne!