8 Alternatives to College After High School

If you or a loved one are nearing the completion of your high school education, contemplating the path you might take next year, you have plenty to think about. In recent years, plenty of new options in the way of program variations and career specialties have emerged.

If you’ve been thinking about alternatives to college after high school, here are some of the best alternatives to college after high school:

Alternative #1: Trade School

Skilled trades are highly valued within our economy and day-to-day lives. In Canada, current trade jobs in demand include construction work, carpentry, electrician work, plumbing, HVAC repair and elevator technician work. These roles take specific classroom training as well as on-the job, apprentice instruction. In return, they usually offer good salaries and career stability.

Alternative #2: Career College

Going to a career college is a great alternative to traditional college after high school. A career college is a vocational school that allows you to focus on specific areas of study. Unlike a more general college program, a career college offers courses that dive deep into a specific role. If you know the field of study you would like to pursue, you may find a career college to match your interests.

If you are interested in business programs, for example, search for accredited programs that can equip you with specific, market-ready skills, including payroll, administration and accounting. Similarly, if you are interested in healthcare programs, look for organizations that can deliver the specialized training you need.

Alternative #3: Work Experience

Of course, no classroom can substitute for the real-world experience of work. While your options, just out of high school, will be limited there is something to be gained from every job. While you work and save money, you can explore college programs and courses.

You will also gain the perspective of daily work, perhaps budgeting and saving for a goal. You may even find yourself in a role that develops into a career path. Even if you don’t—even if the work feels temporary and unfulfilling—the experience and income will be useful as you contemplate further training.

Alternative #4: Explore Certificate Programs

There are a wide range of certificate programs available in Canada, as an alternative to college training. A certificate program generally requires two semesters—one full year—of training in a highly specific program. Examples of certificate programs include baking and pastry arts, bartending, personal support workers, veterinary assistants and much more.

Alternative #5: Volunteer

If you or a loved one are struggling to figure out a direction after high school, volunteering can be an excellent way to explore your interests. Whether you are thinking about the medical field or the publishing world, taking on a volunteer role—in-person or online—can give you valuable exposure to people, ideas and information that can help shape your future training and career decisions.

Alternative #6: Work-Travel Programs

If you or your teenager have your heart set on travel as part of a post-high school plan, be sure to consider the experience that can be gained from a work abroad program. Plenty of organizations exist to help match your goals with available work. The experience of working in another country will broaden your perspective and may give you firm ideas about the work path you’d like to take down the road.

Alternative #7: Sample Classes

If you or your high school student know that formal education is part of your future but feel unprepared to make a decision at the moment, consider taking a range of single classes, rather than signing up for a comprehensive program. Stand-alone classes are often offered by community colleges or as part of an adult education program. This way, whether bookkeeping or sommelier training sparks your interest, you can explore ideas relatively quickly and inexpensively.

Alternative #8: Start Your Own Business

Of course, if you have a business idea you’re burning to put into action, you may want to skip formal training all together and go straight into an entrepreneurial life. Keep in mind, virtually every business meets hurdles along the way. Even if you dedicate most of your day to a new business idea, you may want to take business training at night in accounting, marketing or general business administration.

Figuring out your post-high school career path can be daunting. You may wonder how anyone figures out what they would like to do for work. One of the best things you can do, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, is to explore your options thoroughly. Make a list of things you’d like to consider, research them deeply by asking questions and listening openly to the answers.

Be sure to take the hours of a job and the possibility of night shifts into account as you explore. In short, try to identify the kind of work you’d like to do before you dive in with both feet. If you’ve been wondering about alternatives to college after high school, we hope this list of ideas has served as a useful starting point.