Any number of life events can delay the start of your post-secondary education or make pursuing a post-secondary degree necessary. Maybe you’ve been busy raising a family, or maybe new advances in your chosen career field have made promotion impossible without new certification. Or if you just graduated from high school and a normal college experience isn’t what you want, you may be looking for other options to help you get ahead.

Just because you don’t want to go to a regular university doesn’t mean you are out of options. Some careers don’t require a degree and there are other ways to earn your degree than by going to campus. Take a look at some of your options.

Technical Institutes

Technical institutes have gained a lot of popularity recently, especially for people who are looking to enter the workforce immediately. A lot of technical schools offer the opportunity to earn an associate’s degree or a technical degree. Technical schools allow you to take courses that focus solely on your future career path, meaning that you will complete your studies much quicker than you would at a university. Technical schools tend to offer programs that focus on technology, such as programming or IT courses or medical areas such as nursing, pharmacy technician, or dental assistant.

Vocational Schools

Like technical institutes, vocational schools focus on getting you the skills you need to enter the workforce quickly with the experience you need. Vocational schools often offer certificates of completion to go along with your coursework. Most of your classes are hands-on, requiring you to do your schoolwork and practice in an environment that is very similar to your future work environment. Vocational schools tend to focus on areas such as culinary arts, cosmetology, welding, and mechanics.

Because of their similarities, many vocational and technical school are combined nowadays, allowing students at these schools to have more options. In the past, vocational schools have only offered certificates of completion. Now, vocational schools that are combined with a technical school allow their students to earn an associate’s degree or a technical degree, depending on the classes that they take.

Online Universities

By far the most flexible option for non-traditional post-secondary education is to enroll in an online degree program. It is easy to find almost any type of program you are looking for offered online now, from an MBA to a doctorate of education to an online nursing program. These programs work around your schedule and often provide the same course materials and instruction as brick-and-mortar classes, with the added bonus of online study guides and instant, personalized feedback.

Many of these online degree programs allow you to move at your own pace and they are cheaper than a traditional university, which means that you can save time and money while completing your schoolwork.  The flexibility, coupled with the resources that this option provides you with makes it the ideal choice for someone who already has a full-time job and is looking to increase their earning potential or to start a new career path.

Community College

If you think that you might want to go to a university at some point but you aren’t completely sure, a community college is a good place to start. Depending on the college, you may be able to earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor degree in a variety of courses. This is a much cheaper option for students because it is meant to serve people in the community and it doesn’t have nearly as many expenses as a university. Classes tend to be offered at more varied times of day, allowing many students to hold a full or part-time job. This is a great way to figure out if the traditional higher education experience is right for you and to get some of your general requirements out of the way.

No matter where you are in life, a wide range of options exists for acquiring a quality, post-secondary education without investing the time and money required by traditional four-year programs. Whether you’re just starting out and not yet ready to commit to a college degree, or you find yourself needing a flexible solution for career-advancing education, there is something out there that will work well for you.


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The Pros and Cons of Community College