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Exploring Non-Traditional Paths Post High School


As high school graduation approaches, the pressure to pursue a traditional college education often feels like an unavoidable path. However, it's essential to recognize that college isn't the only route to success. I have always been an advocate for education and making sure that students equip themselves with the knowledge and skills that they need to be successful in whatever field they choose. But I'm no fool. I know that every career does not require a college degree and I know that some students would prefer to jump right into a career that has on the job training and no student loans. So today, let's think about what those options are. In this blog post, we'll explore non-traditional post-high school options, highlighting the benefits of entering the workforce through trades or starting a business. Let's weigh our options.

The College Experience:

College undoubtedly offers valuable experiences, from academic growth to personal development. It provides an environment for networking, exposure to diverse perspectives, and the opportunity to delve deep into specific fields of study. For many, college is a gateway to specialized professions and well-paying jobs. However, the rising costs of tuition and the burden of student loans have led many to reconsider the traditional college route. (But If you're a local Rockford student, there's a solution!)

Trade Education:

Trade schools offer a practical and efficient alternative for those who prefer hands-on learning. From plumbing and electrician work to automotive repair and cosmetology, trades provide specialized skills that are in high demand. The shorter duration of trade programs means graduates can enter the workforce sooner, with less debt and the potential for lucrative careers. A lot of these programs are offered at your local community college or trade school.

Starting a Business:

Entrepreneurship is another compelling option for high school graduates. The advent of technology and the internet has made it easier than ever to start a business. Whether it's an e-commerce venture, freelance work, or a tech startup, the possibilities are vast. Entrepreneurship fosters creativity, innovation, and a strong work ethic. Many successful individuals, from Steve Jobs to Mark Zuckerberg, chose to forgo traditional education in favor of pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams.

Benefits of Non-Traditional Paths:

1. Practical Skills: Trade schools focus on hands-on training, equipping students with practical skills that are immediately applicable in the workforce.

2. Financial Considerations: Non-traditional paths often come with lower costs and quicker entry into the job market, reducing the burden of student loans and enabling graduates to start earning sooner.

3. Entrepreneurial Mindset: Starting a business encourages self-reliance, problem-solving, and adaptability – qualities highly valued in today's dynamic job market.

4. Job Market Demand: Many trades are facing a shortage of skilled workers, making graduates in these fields highly sought after and ensuring job security.


While college remains a viable and beneficial option for many, it's crucial to recognize that it's not the only path to success. Trade schools and entrepreneurship offer alternative routes that can lead to fulfilling and prosperous careers. High school graduates should consider their passions, goals, and preferences when deciding on their post-secondary path, knowing that success can be achieved through various avenues beyond the traditional classroom.

Written by Gabrielle Foreman



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