5 Steps to Take If You Don’t Finish Your College Degree

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If you decided not to go to college, or if you didn't finish your college degree, don't panic! There are still great careers you can have without a college degree.For years now, the expected life path has been to graduate high school, go to college, get a degree, and finally, get a job. While much of society has indeed followed this course, there are those that stepped outside the normative box.

What used to be a small percentage, since the idea that without a degree you’d never get a job was widely accepted, has grown to be much larger. That being said, if you’ve entered into the real world sans a college degree, you are in no way alone in that.

Between the exorbitant cost of tuition, to life’s little surprises, to the mere fact that college really isn’t for everyone, not all finish to don that cap and gown. Nonetheless, to live requires a job. So, how do you obtain and grow a career if you don’t finish your college degree?

Although there will be positions that are unattainable without a higher education, there are plenty more career paths to follow. If you find yourself seeking a career without that piece of embossed paper, consider these steps. 

1. Consider Alternative Education Options 

While college is the standard education path, its not the only one. From court reporters to realtors to pilots to software engineers and electricians, there’s no shortage of jobs that only require vocational training or certificates. This is a much more inexpensive way to get the education you need without shelling out $40,000 for a four-year program.

If there’s a field or career you’re interested in that falls into this category, you can usually find specialty training and certificate programs online or at your local community college. Upon completing said program, most individuals find great entry-level jobs to get them started. 

2. Seek Out Opportunities to Learn on the Job

Not all education comes from a school, in fact, in many cases college graduates say that they learned more once they started working, than they did in school. That being the case, there’s plenty of ways the world and actually working can help you acquire the skills you need.

One such instance is through an internship. Not all internships are paid. But, internships can be a great way for you to learn more about a company, industry, or potential position. They can also help you get your foot in the door. In many cases, if you do a phenomenal job, many companies have a tendency to offer their interns full-time gigs.

Furthermore, seek out jobs that’ll help provide you the knowledge you need. That may be by being an apprentice to someone, shadowing and working alongside a pro, or even starting at an entry-level gig that’ll give you room to grow into a potential career. In some cases, companies will groom and hire individuals for positions because they’ve been with their company from the get-go. 

3. Opt for Positions Where Work Means More than Experience

If you’ve ever heard others groan about job seeking, than you know that a lot of the time they discuss the frustration of being told they simply don’t have enough experience. Not every job or hiring manager values a degree above experience. Plus, depending on your area of interest, your career just might fall into that category.

Acquiring an English, art, or design degree is great. However, often times, if you want to write, design, or animate for an organization, they want to see your portfolio and on-the-job training.

In such instances, find ways to freelance or take on jobs here and there. This will further your skills and gain that experience. Because generally, if you can produce stellar work and a solid portfolio, the job will go to you over the fresh college graduate. 

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4. Network, Network, Network

The phrase, “it’s not what you know, but who you know,” couldn’t be more spot on. Networking is one step that’s important with or without a degree.

That being said, the right starting point without a college degree is often dependent on networking. If you’re hoping to learn from someone in your field or want to find a way in to a company, you’ll have find ways to introduce yourself to the right people.

Find a local group of like minded individuals via Facebook or other websites. Ask friends and family. If you do attend a vocational school or a certificate program, speak with the instructor to seek out professionals you can learn from and connect with. Any move you make that can put you out there and mingling with others in your field is a good step towards finding the knowledge and position you need. 

5. Consider Public Service Jobs 

Like many of the job titles listed above, there’s a number of public service roles that’ll teach you everything you need to know before you get into the position. Whether you’d like to become a police officer, fireman, go into early childhood education or the military, each of these jobs usually require only a high school diploma or GED.

They’re not only respectable roles to have, but are fields that could help you jumpstart a life-long career. Moreover, entities like the military will go even further. They often times pay for a members college education should you decide to go back one day.

The job market and the way companies hire is changing every day and becoming more malleable by the minute. Not acquiring a college degree used to feel like a monstrous hinderance to your career.

Fast forward to today, however, and you’ll find that that’s not necessarily the case anymore. As tuition prices continue to increase, we may even find that a generation arises that pushes back even further against the set societal norms of education.

And if you’re currently someone who didn’t complete their college major to graduation, there’s many more avenues for you to go down.

Do you think it’s easier today to start and rise in a career without a college degree? What are some other great jobs that don’t require a degree?