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3 Alternatives to the Traditional College Path

While continuing education is always a good idea, rising tuition costs and student loan debt can make a traditional four-year degree look less appealing than it once did. Trade school, an associate degree, and other options can help you to begin a career without drowning yourself in debt of higher education. Here are three alternatives to the traditional college path.

Trade Schools

Trade schools not only provide you with practical experience that directly relates to your career development, but their programs are often shorter and cost less than a four-year degree at a private university. Trade school is also often followed up with an apprenticeship where you can work for someone in your field to continue learning the tools of the trade. According to Ed Smart, several careers that you can prepare for through trade school can pay a decent salary. The ability to earn a higher salary upon completion of trade school is one attractive feature to consider. Many college graduates who start at entry-level jobs often barely make enough to pay for the cost of one year of tuition.

Associate Degree

Completing an associate degree will arm you with the knowledge to begin a specialized career, such as that of a medical assistant or dental hygienist. According to California College of San Diego, associate degrees can be completed in under two years, allowing you to enter the workforce sooner. Associate degrees also give you the option to continue your education down the road. For example, a medical assistant can continue receiving an education for a specialized career as an RN or even go on to attend medical school.

Joining the Military

High school graduates who have not yet narrowed down a career path can buy some time while earning a salary, job experience and benefits by enlisting in the military. Many do not attend college immediately due to the cost of continuing education. However, completing an enlistment contract in the Armed services can earn you certain benefits. For example, the GI Bill can help to pay for education once you are discharged, according to In Charge. Additionally, you can speak to a recruiter about various military operating specialties to find one that will translate to a career path after your service obligation is fulfilled. Such options include corpsman, aviation tech or various engineering paths.

An undergraduate degree isn’t necessarily in the books for everyone. There are plenty of alternatives that will get you on-the-job training and prepare you for a lucrative career. Trade school, an associate degree or the military can all give you job training and education while allowing you to earn a salary or enter the workforce faster without as much debt.

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