Allowing students to seek their own path is so important in creating individuals that can change the world and the future of humanity. (Josh Hild)
Allowing students to seek their own path is so important in creating individuals that can change the world and the future of humanity.

Josh Hild

College is Out: Seven Alternative Routes To Take After High School

A look into seven non-traditional options after high school that may be more your style than that of your peers.

April 19, 2022

Are you on the path you want to be on? Or are you walking the road laid out for you by your parents, teachers, and peers? Here are some things you can do after high school that very well may help you check some things off your bucket list while working towards success.

Girl with Books
Community College is cheaper, less time consuming in the long run, and possibly the most logical path to take after high school. (Yaroslav Shuraev)

1. Community College

Seeing people look down on those that go to community college is shocking, because when using logic, it may be the smartest route to go if you want an education and financial freedom.  Community college is great for many reasons.  First, it’s a huge money saver.  People save tens of thousands of dollars going to community college rather than a traditional four year. Second, maybe you aren’t ready to spend your money and time on the commitment a four year university is, going to community college allows freedom to discover who you are and what you are interested in studying. Finally, there is always the option to transfer to a four year university after one to two years of Community College.  With sufficient preparation, you can still get a degree from Berkeley (where you will join a growing number of California students entering as Junior). Going to a community college for the first couple of years is the best of both worlds!


2. Internship or Start Working

Whatever your dream job is, there is probably someone or some company looking for an intern in that field.  There are many internships that don’t require a degree from a university that, with time, can lead to full time jobs…many of which may pay considerably well, if that’s what you’re looking for. Junior Julie McTigue said, “My whole life has been planning for college but lately I’ve wondered if there’s another way to get my dream job with out going through years of school.” If anybody reading this has thought the same thing, an internship may be the way to go.  Some of the best places to find internships include LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and  Your high school counselor may also be a resource to use to find a broader spectrum of opportunities.

man jumping in sky
While going a different route than your peers may be intimidating, it can be extremely rewarding if you decide to embrace your time off.

3. Gap Year

While, yes, taking a gap year means you are most likely planning to go back to school, it gives you some time to live a little, experience things you’ve never experienced, and open your eyes to a whole world you may not have even known existed.  There are so many things people decide to do with their gap years, many of the things on this list can be done within the confines of a year.  If you pitch a gap year to your desired university, and lay out an interesting plan, they may be even more willing to take you because they know that students that have been away from school for sometime will be coming back with some fuel in their tank.  Students that take gap years often come back with a desire to learn, perhaps contradictory to students that go directly from senior year in high school to being a freshman in a new environment.  So, do the research and give a gap year some thought, there is so much you can get done within a year when your nose isn’t stuck in a textbook. (Connecticut Gap Year And College Fair)


Volunteering whether abroad or locally can expand ones perspective on the world, it can help people figure out what they are passionate about while doing a spectrum of good things for humanity. (Porapak Apichodilok)

4. Volunteer Locally or Abroad

Volunteering abroad could fit into your gap year plans and, in the eyes of a college admissions council, would look like an amazing use of your time.  Even if you aren’t planning on going back to school, volunteering abroad is accompanied by many benefits including housing, meals, tickets, and more, all while doing amazing things for the world.  You are also getting the opportunity to see places you may not have seen before, or somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.  There are endless amounts of websites and programs that allow you to research volunteer opportunities, for teens and adults!




Beach with van Perspective
Travel is essential in gaining a deeper understanding for world cultures and also is an opportunity to gain once in a life time experiences! (Jeremy Bishop)

5. Travel and Work Online

It’s difficult to step out of your comfort zone but once you do, there are opportunities all around you.  If something you’ve always wanted to do is travel…you can find a way to do it, it will just take some research and save up money.  Best case scenario: you find a job as an assistant or some online job that pays you to travel. Realistically there may not be a lot of those positions available for someone just out of high school.  One option is saving up the money you’ve worked for in high school and traveling (on a budget) to the places on your bucket list, ideally you could get an online job and be getting paid while you’re on the go.  There are so many “work from home” jobs nowadays, especially because of the pandemic.  It just takes some research and patience.


6. Entrepreneurship (Start a Business!)

School is pricey, think about the thousands of dollars you would be spending on tuition, housing, meal plans, etc. if you were to take the traditional route.  If you were to save even a fraction of that money and put it towards a business, the possibilities are endless.  All you need is a good idea and ideally some money to get your business off the ground.  Junior Sophia Chen said, “I have thought about starting a business before but have never had the time or the money,” if the money that would have been spent on college is put toward a solid idea, you could eventually make a full salary while being your own boss. From there, the sky’s the limit!


soldier with kids
An extremely honorable and respectable route to take after high school is serving in the military.

7. Serve in the Military

While joining the military may not be what you had in mind after graduation, it deserves heavy consideration.  Serving the country will earn you respect, a salary, and benefits.  This could be yours at 18 years old, albeit, it does take commitment and hard work, but at the end of the day you are doing good work for your country and what you put out into the world will come back around.






If, after reading a little bit about these alternative options, you still aren’t convinced to avoid the college route, read the article linked below about the college admissions process.

Picking Apart The College Application Process

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