In the midst of this pandemic fallout and the global population adjusting to the new normal, fresh high school graduates and all the young adults across the world face the decision to pursue higher education or enter the workforce as soon as possible. However, times aren’t like they used to, and there are more alternatives available in our current day and career paths that don’t typically align with the traditional get-a-degree framework.
Furthermore, from a personal finance perspective, it begs the question of whether college even contributes to financial literacy or just sets you back on your financial goals. So, today we’ll be exploring that very question, diving deep into the uprising alternatives, and weighing the opportunity costs of both sides. The goal is to provide a concrete decision on whether pursuing college is a worthwhile endeavor from a financial standpoint.
College Isn’t For Everyone.
While the stories of college dropouts turning into today’s ultra-successful millionaires of the world have been told many times over, it’s still one of the best pieces of evidence of college not being the best choice for everyone. You see, unlike the days of the industrial boom and times before the sudden rise of the digital age, getting a degree doesn’t immediately guarantee the same things in today’s landscape. In fact, it even comes with a lot more conditionals:
- Nobody Likes Debt: People who don’t come from not-so-affluent and underserved backgrounds used to look at university as their key out of the lower-income bracket. However, higher education comes at very steep prices, and students go into so much debt burden before they even have the means to pay it off. As a result, the typical graduate would have to dedicate the first two to three years of their working life just to shave off the enormous debt they’ve acquired.
- False Sense of Career Security: Professionals used to be in so much more demand, and while many industries still need innovative thinkers, fresh college graduates don’t typically get the best positions from the get-go. Entry-level jobs are where most of their qualifications net them due to the “lack of experience,” thus creating a false sense of career security. And, with the increasing efforts of automation and artificial intelligence, some professional jobs aspired for after higher education is slowly being replaced by more efficient robots.
- Too “Traditional” Thinking: In the contemporary world, attaining financial success is no longer tied down to the 9-5 work cycle. There exists a vast catalog of financial instruments to utilize from cryptocurrencies, stock trading, real estate investments, and many more. All of which have the potential to promise more returns and a higher ceiling of pay in the long-term.
What Are The Alternatives?
With all of those reasons considered, let’s now take a look at the potential alternatives to going to college. Everyone’s preferences and strengths are different, so be open to all of the choices laid down below and think about the benefits when evaluating each one.
#1 Consider Going To Trade School
Number one on the list of alternatives is going to trade school. And, as the name suggests, this educational institution focuses on teaching you a specific trade job and equipping students with the necessary skills for the job. Another way to look at it is a more technical postsecondary education that takes away all the fluff and emphasizes the lessons on actual work in the field.
- Practical Skills Training: In university, you’re often faced with taking minor and major courses every single semester, whereas a trade school will mainly focus on practical skills training. As a result, everything you learn will translate into the job you want, saving you so much time on figuring things out and internships. Plus, you get to start earning very competitive wages right as you finish and increases over your professional career.
- Less Time, High Demand: Apart from specific skills, going to trade school also takes less time to finish, only needing less than a year up to two years max on average. On top of that, there’s always a high demand for skilled workers in very technical fields, meaning you won’t have trouble finding a comfortable and competitive position.
#2 Pursue Entrepreneurship
Finally, instead of proceeding to college, pursuing entrepreneurship and entering the business landscape is a growing trend that many people have seen success in recent years. From launching start-ups and selling them for millions to marketing their unique creative skills to the world, there’s a growing market everywhere that welcomes great minds.
- Focus on Capital Creation: Four years spent in college is a lot of time spent, and for the entrepreneur, this is enough time to focus on capital creation and increasing their resources. If you decide to pursue entrepreneurship, you get a head start on all of your creative plans and have room for error since you’re still very young.
- Early Start to Build Your Portfolio: For the more investment-inclined approach, they can begin early with building their portfolio. From purchasing stocks for the long-term, trading options, leveraging mortgage loans in real estate, and many more, the earlier you can build and diversify, the better. Over time, it’s not impossible to achieve complete financial freedom in just a bit of ten to fifteen years of hard work and determination.
Avoid A Narrow-Minded Outlook
In conclusion, we want to remind everyone that there’s no cookiecutter process to financial success, so avoid the narrow-minded outlook of getting a degree to become financially free. There are numerous ways to find success in our current day that is more financially sound than the traditional methods, so don’t shy away from them!