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Life Without A College Degree--Alternatives To The University--Cool Jobs

Updated on March 14, 2012

Here is a short article on some alternatives to heading straight from high school to a pricey college or university. I do not have a college degree and I consider myself quite successful thus far in life, and far more importantly, I am happy--without debt. This article is intended to provoke some thought for the young person before they blindly enter an expensive college career.

BORING and maybe unnecessary?

First an impassioned speech!

Why should you listen to this uneducated guy rant on about not going straight to college from high school? Does this guy have a chip on his shoulder? Yep, I do. I see so many fools that went through college, have a degree, and now, with a large debt, still don’t know what to do with their lives. I am an advocate of self disciplined learning. Not all people are like me and need the structure of school where professors guide you in the learning process. I prefer to not to pay for that-and believe most should, at the very least, pause, and think about what they really want from life before they amass a crippling debt.

Go to college! But wait a while! Don’t go immediately after high school. It is impossible to know what you want to study as a naive eighteen year old----YOU HAVE TIME----wait, get a job, some life experience, travel a little---then, when you have a better idea who you are, GO TO SCHOOL! I can’t say it enough, just wait, and explain to your anxious worry-wart parents that you need time to discover what you want from life.

Travelling is a real education--no matter what your parents say!

AMERICORPS--- This is a fantastic program, kind of like a “small national peace corps.” I joined an Americorps program called, “City Year,” that in a lot of ways formed who I am today. It enabled me to move from my small town in Maine to a large city in California---an eye opening experience. They pay a living stipend, (a small but reasonable salary) and after a year of service, about five grand for college that you can use within five years of completing the program.

Become a FOREST FIRE FIGHTER! You would be surprised that this is a job available to a persistent, strong young person. It is also summer work, that enables you to save money for TRAVELING.!

How to become a hotshot LINK:

This is a video of an elite group of forest fire fighters called, "rappelers"

Get any old summer job, save money and then, TRAVEL. When you travel suddenly you are shaken to the core. Leave the United States! You see the world in a new light, you might even meet fellow traveler and have a passionate affair, opening your eyes to new philosophies and life-styles. You may even end up changing you political point of view.

Learn a foreign language. So valuable in this day in age! Imagine being able to flirt in a foreign language. You don’t need to pay a school to learn a language---in fact you learn a language in a more deep and real manner far from a classroom. As long as you are self disciplined and enthusiastic. Also a great excuse to travel.

Last but not least, maybe you could consider joining the military.  It is hard for me to promote this as I choose not to make this sort of commitment.  I am a pacifist, but the benefits of joining the military are undeniable.  Lately, I have met many practical people that are now finishing school debt free after a taking full advantage of their well deserved GI bill.

I am a fledgling writer, and a hotshot fire fighter. I plan on going back to school--but not until I am sure of what I want to learn. I am twenty -nine years old and still unsure---I have plenty of time! Good luck in all that you decide and please leave a comment on your uncollege alternatives, experience or ideas

Check out a short story I am writing at:

The UnCollege Alternative: Your Guide to Incredible Careers and Amazing Adventures Outside College
The UnCollege Alternative: Your Guide to Incredible Careers and Amazing Adventures Outside College

I read this book during my senior year of high school. A good starting point on alternative ideas.


Ah yes, I almost forgot here is a link to the AMERICORPS web site.  The perfect place tobuy some time while finding yourself. Also a very noble, productive way to start your life.

Check it out at:

A little poll

Is having a degree a good measure of intelligence?

See results


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    • SpeakUpStandOut profile image

      Criss 5 years ago from Southern California

      ... many of the most successful people in America do not have a higher education degree, some people are meant for school and some people are meant to live their lives free. I myself, believe that education is a valuable experience; but I do understand that College is not for everyone (and when I say this, I do not include my own children). Success is not achieved by education alone, one must have drive, determination, passion... and sometimes the end three are enough. Dream your dreams; no crime in living your life. :)

    • Heidesigns profile image

      Heidi 7 years ago from North Carolina

      I love how you express yourself. Awesome job!(Oops, I used an exclamation point. It was warranted.) : )

    • PaulStaley1 profile image

      PaulStaley1 7 years ago from With the wind---(or against it)

      K tal amigo jrsearam! Thanks for stopping bye--good for the kids to have the two opposing outlooks! Makes um think! Hasta pronto amigo!

    • jrsearam profile image

      jrsearam 7 years ago from San Juan, PR

      Que pasa Paul? Great advice; much of it, I have already given to my children. Can't seem to convince my wife though. Unfortunately, she is still stuck in the college after high school mind set. I'll keep working on her for the kid's sake. Thanks for the arguments...JR

    • PaulStaley1 profile image

      PaulStaley1 7 years ago from With the wind---(or against it)

      Hey thanks Teresa---I guess the good old cliche "think outside the box" could be used here somewhere!

    • Teresa McGurk profile image

      Sheila 7 years ago from The Other Bangor

      Excellent--this hub gets my vote; you raise all the right points and I only wish many more people had your perspective. Well done!


    • PaulStaley1 profile image

      PaulStaley1 7 years ago from With the wind---(or against it)

      JudoWolf---yes most people can breeze through college, It is really just what you make of it I suppose. I have an inkling that you are one to have taken advantage of your good education--I shows in your Hospice work! Thanks for stopping by amigo!

      Hey Simone--I love your avatar! Big eyes like Penelope Cruz! Thanks for the up vote amiga!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      It's so foolish to waste tons of money on a degree when (1) that degree might be superflous or (2) one is not even sure that one will USE the degree in that field of focus. You're so right on with this Hub. Voted up!

    • profile image

      Judowolf 7 years ago


      I answered your question and have a masters degree in social work. It has helped me along the way but do not feel it measured my intelligence. College is rote and most people who go through breeze. The ideas you have come up with are excellent. All my daughters have college degrees and do not use them.I was in the military and for a lot of people are excellent ways to find their niche. Excellent for blue collar workers especially electricians and others, which we will need in the future. Life experience is just as important than college.

      Another wicked pissa post.

      Wayne aka Judowolf

    • profile image

      No one knows 7 years ago

      Great job Paul. It's always better to think for yourself than to follow a pattern that may or may not fit you. Keep learning, that's the importent thing.

    • Sustainable Sue profile image

      Sustainable Sue 7 years ago from Altadena CA, USA

      I totally agree with your contentions. Going to a community college to explore college is also a good alternative. I did that, then worked a couple years, then got a bachelors degree. From there I joined the Peace Corps (Americorp didn't exist then). My whole life long I've been learning more about myself and life with a wide variety of experiences. The Internet, itself, is a great place to learn. Check out these documentaries. They're free!

    • PaulStaley1 profile image

      PaulStaley1 7 years ago from With the wind---(or against it)

      Hey thanks vocalcoach---I'm headed over to check out your hubs!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 7 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      You've done a marvelous job on this topic. Informative and lots of choices. Rated up! vocalcoach


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