What if I get to college and don’t like it?

In many countries, obtaining a college degree has become a societal ideal. High school students are often told that they will never find careers without degree. Because of this, they are ushered towards college as their lone option. But the truth is, college isn’t for everyone. What if you get to college and realize you don’t like it?

First, don’t panic. It is incredibly common for college freshman—or even sophomores, juniors, and seniors—to grow uneasy at school. It’s also very common for students to take time off to sort out their aspirations. You should still give college a fair chance! A lot can change over the course of a semester or school year. But if you still can’t seem to shake that feeling that something is off, it’s time to consider leaving school for a period of time. Now the question becomes: should you go back to college, or follow another route?

For some, it is just a matter of switching to a campus where they feel more comfortable, like from an urban campus to a rural one. For that, read our article on which college campus is right for you.

But for others, it becomes clear that traditional college simply isn’t right for them. If this sounds like you, you’re in luck! You have a lot of options for careers without degree.

Consider Trade School

One of which that’s worth considering is trade school. A trade school is exactly as it sounds—a school that prepares students for specific jobs in the skilled trades. There is a huge variety of trade school offerings covering an array of professions. These include hands-on jobs like plumbing and construction, restaurant-industry jobs like bartending and culinary arts, and cosmetology jobs like makeup and hair artistry, just to name a few.

Careers without degree

Trade school programs tend to cost much less than traditional college, and typically last about two years. This not only means that you’ll be able to start making money sooner, but also that you’ll be much less likely to leave school saddled in student debt. People often think that people in trade jobs always make less, but this is a misconception. While of course there will be salary variation in any industry, no matter your education, trade jobs are both lucrative and well protected. Trade workers are well unionized and tend to have good benefits. Additionally, there is more autonomy on the job day to day. They often have similar benefits of an office job, but with the added benefit that you don’t have to sit at a desk and stare at a spreadsheet all day.

Careers without degree requirements

Careers without degree

Some of these careers without degree requirements, namely bartending and cooking, require no formal training at all but rather, an apprenticeship of sorts. It’s common for a worker to get a busboy job at a restaurant and later learn bartending skills. Then, they can use these skills for years to come. Caring professions are also a good place to look for careers without degree needs, such as being a nanny, babysitter, or senior aide. 

If college isn’t a fit, but you still aspire a job that traditionally hires college-educated people, it’s worth volunteering or taking up internships. While many internships are reserved for current college students (as employers offering unpaid internships are required to do this by law), there are certainly opportunities out there for everyone. You just have to look a bit more actively, be patient, and be bold. If there’s not an opportunity available at your dream employer, reach out anyway and introduce yourself. You never know where it might take you.

The last thing to consider in your quest towards fulfilling your goals without a college degree is, of course, your parents. Parents often worry that their children won’t be able to succeed without a college degree. For this reason, some parents might disapprove of their child’s decision to leave college. If this sounds like your situation, it’s absolutely worth opening up a dialogue with your parents about your future. Consider cluing them in on your plans—whether they’re fully fleshed out or still in the works. This will make your parents feel included, and lessen their worries. You don’t need to go to college to run towards the life you’ve dreamed of. 

About the Author

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A.

Cassidy A. is an experienced English tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers Math, English, SAT, Coding, Spanish tutoring, and more.