4 Education Alternatives to 4-Year College

“You have to graduate high school and then go to college; if you don’t go to college and get a 4-year degree, your life will pretty much suck FOR-EV-ER!”

I’m willing to bet that your parental units and nearly every guidance counselor and teacher has told you something to that effect, right? It’s not without good cause; it’s a basic fact that generally speaking, the more education you have, the more money you are likely to make over your lifetime. But here’s something that most older folks won’t tell you – a 4-year college isn’t the only way to get an education after high school.

Check out these four alternative ways to continue your education:

2-Year Vocational/Technical Colleges and Trade Schools

These schools are great options because they narrow post-high school studies down to specialized career areas. They have a wide array of program areas, such as nurse’s aide, computer networking, early childhood care and education, automotive technology, cosmetology, medical assisting, accounting, emergency medical technician/paramedics, etc.

Depending on the major you choose, you can finish school in 2-3 years and then enter the workforce making a salary comparable to what graduates of 4-year colleges earn.

Military Service

See the world, get a good paycheck, and get a quality education all at once. When you enlist in any branch of service, you choose a Military Occupation Specialty (MOS). Basically, this is the job you want to do during your service. The military will pay YOU to get the specialized training to do that work. Most of this training and experience is transferable to civilian careers once your military service is over.

BONUS! If you later decide to attend a 2 or 4-year college, the military helps pay for some or all of it, depending on how long you serve.


You thought apprenticeships disappeared back in the olden days of yore, didn’t you? Apprenticeships are alive, and they can be great alternatives to the traditional college setting. The U.S. Department of Labor has an entire Registered Apprenticeship program: “Registered Apprenticeship helps mobilize America’s workforce with structured, on-the-job training in traditional industries such as construction and manufacturing, as well as new high-growth industries such as health care, information technology, energy, telecommunications, advanced manufacturing and more.” You get paid while you learn, and you can enter the workforce with little or no educational debt (student loans).



<—- JUST KIDDING. DO NOT do this. Get up, get out, and be productive. Remember – getting an education beyond high school is necessary; whether that education comes from a traditional 4-year college or university isn’t. 



photo Credit 1Photo Credit 2, Photo Credit 3, Photo Credit 4, Photo Credit 5

About JW Moxie

J-Dub Moxie has a BS in BS, but someone thought it was a good idea to make her responsible for educating adolescents. She does a good impression of an 8th Grade English teacher by day, but by night she's a gangsta nerd superhero. She wishes she could clone copies of her husband Frank to sell; he is that awesome. Despite Moxie's best efforts, their four children (ages 6-10) refuse to be corrupted into doing her evil bidding. Moxie is in love with carbohydrates and in hate with writing bios. She blogs at The Smartness and Tweets @JWMoxie. Word.


  1. UnknownMami says:

    Part of me thinks the whole 4 year college model is outdated, but don’t tell my kids I said that.

    Twitter Name:

    • JW Moxie says:

      I think the fact that it’s outdated is becoming more and more apparent. That’s not stopping me from drilling the whole concept of college into to my kids’ heads, though. Still, I’m open to them seeking alternative means of education after high school, just as long as it doesn’t involve stripper poles or illegal activities.

      Twitter Name:

  2. Diana says:

    I think my son is aiming for the whole freeload thing.

    Twitter Name:

  3. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
    you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your web site
    is magnificent, as well as the content!

  4. My developer is trying to persuade me to move to .

    net from PHP. I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.

    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using WordPress
    on numerous websites for about a year and am anxious about switching to another platform.
    I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.
    net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
    Any kind of help would be really appreciated!

Speak Your Mind