These words are hard for any parent to hear: “Mom…dad—I don’t want to attend college.” You spend eighteen years raising your child with good values and ready to send them off into the world, but we often forget the world has changed since we were their age. The opportunities have changed. The requirements for jobs have changed. I could go on, but you get the point. Do your child a favor. Hear them out when they say the statement. Let them defend why they don’t want to go and then mention the following alternatives to them.


First and foremost, suggest they attend trade school. In light of misrepresentation, trade school is not college. In college, your mind is expanded and stretched in all different topics and theories. The cost is higher and it takes much longer to get your degree. But, in trade school, you pay a third of the cost and get out in the world much quicker. You’re learning a trade or skill that is applicable to a specific job, such as sewing, plumbing skills or how to become an electrician. It’s more hands on and the classes are usually smaller. And, you have a much higher chance of getting a salaried job versus working for minimum wage.


Another alternative is to start your own business. Let’s say you play the piano and several other instruments. You could charge each student $10 a lesson. If you have 15 students a week, that’s $150. That’s just about $600 each month from lessons alone. Of course, you could vary that price with each instrument or charge the student for mileage if you have to travel to their home. You could have a blog where you sell products that relate to your business. Maybe you made an album of your own piano music and you put it up on Youtube. Or you have a podcast in which you talk to experts in the music industry. Nobody is going to ask if you have a master’s degree in music education. They couldn’t care less. What matters is that you teach the instrument well and effectively teach it to each student.


Another option is to sell your products online. This is especially useful for photographers or artists. If you paint or take photographs, it’s essential that you have your own website where people can purchase your prints. Make it available in all sizes, as small as wallet size to as big as canvas or poster size. You could work as an at-home photographer taking portrait photographs, food photographs or wedding photographs. And let’s not forget about art shows. Take your photographs or art work to art shows all around your state—or even the nation. Have prints in all sizes. Print your photographs on mugs, t-shirts, book covers and anything else. You would be surprised what brings in a profit.


You must also be willing to take any job. It may be flipping burgers; the job may be in your industry. When the power bill comes due, you want to make sure that you can pay it. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made and you have to work odd jobs to pay the bills. This doesn’t mean that you have you have to stay in the 9-5 grind. Rather, look at this as a temporary job. While you’re bringing in the money, pay off bills and put money in the bank. This way you can quit your job while you are still young. You can work at home and do the job that you are fulfilled to do. Is it going to be easy? Not by a long shot, but it’s going to be worth it.


Finally, you have to take classes somewhere. If college isn’t your thing, search the Internet. Check out sites like and There are thousands of free (and paid) classes right at your fingertips. You can interact with teachers and students from all around the world. You don’t have to worry about the commute or even getting dressed out of your pajamas. There are no expensive textbooks to buy; everything is provided for you. There are simple classes that explain the basic concepts and excelled classes that explain more difficult concepts. You don’t have to take classes that don’t appeal to you but take classes that will further your knowledge.


While college was once the normal milestone, it’s not the right fit for everyone. Listen to your child and hear them out about why they don’t want to go. Engage in a conversation about their career and what the options may be. They may be able to get a decent job without the college debt.


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