Explore your education and career pathways
Many high school graduates treat traditional four-year college as the default next step, whether or not they have a career in mind. But plenty of good jobs don’t require a bachelor’s degree — or any degree — so it’s worth exploring all your options before you commit.
Here are five alternatives to a four-year college.
These are by no means the only college alternatives. You can also enlist in the military, start a business or, to gain experience and earn money while learning what you enjoy and are good at, get an entry-level job. If you decide you need any schooling:
Submit the FAFSA first. The first step is submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the FAFSA, to see what federal grants, work-study and student loans you qualify for.
Consider federal loans before private ones. If you must take out student loans, exhaust your federal options before borrowing private student loans, because federal loans have more borrower protections.
Be cautious about financing programs. If you attend a private technical school, you may find the school offers its own loan programs or the equivalent of a “buy now, pay later” financing option. Use these with caution since rates may be much higher than federal student loans.
ALTERNATIVE EDUCATION PATHWAYS
Your College Choice: How to See If a School Is Legit
Just because a school has “university” in its name doesn’t mean you’ll get a quality education. When you're making a college choice, you need to look beyond the ads.
JOB TRAINING OPTIONS
Training for the Future: The Most In-Demand Jobs
Consider setting your sights on jobs that will be most in demand in the future. Not the sci-fi “hotel concierge on Mars” future, but the next-decade future. The best jobs for the future are ones that are expected to grow and pay well between now and 2030.
Want a more traditional college experience?
A bachelor's degree is usually worth the cost — if you graduate and are able to pay back your debt.