Exploring Alternatives to College

Consider All of Your Options

Attending college directly after high school is just one path you can take—it’s not the only option.

If you're considering joining the workforce after graduation, there are plenty of opportunities for you to find your passion, while earning a paycheck. A great starting point are the WorkKeys assessments, which will determine your work-ready skills and enable you to earn your NCRC, a portable credential that is highly valued by many employers.

Alternative Pathways for Success

Here are some tips to consider when finding a job after high school:

  • Rise in the ranks. If you're already working, look into higher-level jobs with your current employer.
  • Do your research. Search employment websites for opportunities and job requirements.
  • Talk to your counselor. Work with your counselor or the local employment office on developing a cover letter, resume, or personal website to help you apply for jobs. 
  • Get certified. Consider getting a professional certification license, accreditation, or an employability certificate (like the ACT National Career Readiness Certificate™) to boost your job prospects. 
  • Complete an apprenticeship. Becoming an apprentice allows you to earn money while training for a specialized, highly skilled career, like carpentry, plumbing, electrical work, and even types of engineering. 
  • Get an internship. Consider contacting local employers and ask if they offer internship positions for hands-on experience. 
  • Job shadow. Seek opportunities that allow you to “shadow” an employee and learn more about day-to-day work in a profession you’re interested in pursuing. You might even be able to participate in these before graduating high school. 
  • Attend a Trade School. Trade schools offer hands-on training and real-world skills in various trades, ranging from plumbing and electrical work to culinary arts and automotive repair. This focused education not only takes less time to complete compared to traditional four-year colleges, but it's also generally more affordable, reducing the burden of student debt. 
  • Consider joining the military. Serving in the military can help you earn money for college and offer specialized training in a variety of fields. Talk to local military recruiters and interview friends and family members who have served. You should also compare military training, benefits, tours of duty, and promotion opportunities.