Alternatives to Traditional College

We’re entering this season of corona-land where schools are supposed to be coming back into session. We wanted to dive deeper into alternatives to traditional college. Look, the reality is that we would rather you skip college altogether. BUT, if you are interested in furthering your education after highschool, we highly recommend you look to these alternatives first. 

The reality is that traditional college is changing as we know it. COVID has accelerated the reality that maybe traditional college isn’t necessary. This thought should be deeply examined before dropping thousands of dollars on a degree. We are here to support you and provide resources for those that are looking for something off the beaten path. Here are our alternatives to traditional college. 


You’ve heard us say it before and we’ll say it again. Gap years are a great way to learn more about yourself and the world around you. They can provide insight into what you want to spend your time on and how you can provide value into the world. We love Gap years because they can give you a chance to grow up a bit more without the pressure of deciding what you want to do with your life at the age of 18. 

When we were graduating high school back in 2008, taking a gap year was kind of taboo, but that mindset has significantly shifted since then. Now, parents would rather their kids take a break instead of spending money towards a degree they may not like or change their mind about at the end of the year. So, if you don’t know what you want to do, take a gap year. 


If you DO know what you want to do, we highly recommend going to a community college for the first 2 years of your college career if you are able. Take a note from Te’s book and don’t spend a ton of money right away by going to a 4 year University to take undergrad classes. It’s not only a smart financial decision, but can also allow the flexibility to have a decent job aside from school.  


Trade and technical schools are incredible alternatives to traditional college. They provide specific training for various skilled labor careers and you can make a great living and career in skilled labor. These positions should not be scoffed at or seen as lesser than because they are what keeps our country going. 

Mike Rowe is the founder of Dirty Jobs and the founder of a foundation for skilled trades. He said the following about skilled labors in an interview: 

America is in the midst of a skilled labor shortage, as hundreds of thousands of available jobs go unfilled because workers lack the necessary training. But even more upsetting is the attitude of many Americans that the trades are merely a last-ditch alternative when college doesn’t work out. Parents have long relied on examples of certain unattractive jobs to motivate their children academically, sending a message of “If you don’t get good grades and go to college, you could end up doing that.

Luckily, we see the mentality around skilled labor jobs shifting as more and more individuals want to start making money sooner than later. Dallas Swain, who was on the show, worked in the oil fields and various skilled labor positions and made a decent living for himself without going to college. If you still aren’t sold, check out this post on high paying jobs that don’t require a bachelor’s degree


For some, the military could present to be a great alternative to college as it has a bit of variety and could provide options. Kylon joined the military, we both have family in the military and can be great depending on the person and their goals. It provides a salary, health benefits, paid college tuition through the GI Bill and eventually retirement if you decide to go for the 20 years. In addition to all of that, the bonus is they will train you into specific jobs that you could work in after getting out. 

For instance, we have a cousin that is in the Navy working in IT and was given training while he served. He is about to get out of the military and will be able to find a job in his field without needing much more training because of his experience. There is always the option of going into military college and going into the military as an officer as well. To learn more about the military, go here: and


Apprenticeships are great alternatives to college. A few years ago, apprenticeships were few and far between. Now, there are plenty of options for you depending on what you’d like to do with it. There is the Thiel Fellowship which provides $100,000 and mentorship to 20 students under the age of 20. 

A few more incredible options: 

Praxis: A 12 month long program that will prepare you for a 6 month paid apprenticeship at a startup. After that, a full time job earning $50k+/year starting. The net cost of the program is $0 because you earn much more than you pay to get in.

Life Skills that Matter: Stephen Warley is a self-employment advocate and coach. He is the founder of Stephen believes self-employment is the future of work and he wants to inspire you to create your own work. He teaches self-management skills to the side hustlers, freelancers and solopreneurs.

Echoing Green: Focused on sustainability, check out Echoing Green if you are interested in developing ways to help the world in a big way.

TechStars: If you are interested in getting involved in the tech world, check these guys out. 


Internships are a great way to discover your interests and learn about something without getting locked into a degree. Internships can be paid and unpaid at the start. An employer may offer a full time position if you were exceeding expectations and providing value to the company. 

Working an entry level position can teach you excellence and integrity in the workplace and how to provide value. If you are looking for something in this arena, check out Crash. They specialize in finding incredible positions for those not wanting to go to college. 


Finally, Entrepreneurship is another great alternative to traditional college. You guys know that we love the entrepreneurial route and have done it many times ourselves. It requires hard work, dedication, long hours and a commitment to your business and your customers but gives back tenfold. 

With work continually moving online, we recommend becoming a digital marketer if you are wanting to start your own business. Seth Hymes has a FREE course has helped many in our community build their own digital marketing agencies. If you are interested in becoming an entrepreneur, this is a great place to start

Successful Dropout is a community of outliers and we thrive on giving you options to step off the conveyor belt and take control of your life. You can do that with these alternatives to traditional college. 

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish. 

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