Alternatives for 4 Year Degrees

It is not always feasible for everyone to go to a university and get a 4 year degree any more. The cost of schooling can be prohibitive. While you can get student loans that will, in most cases, cover any amounts you cannot get through financial aid or scholarships, having to pay them back until you are 40 or 50 years old is not something many want to get involved in. Another problem is the need to get out and be working right now. It can be very hard to have to work full time to support yourself and a family and attend school full time. Something suffers, usually school, and you end up having to retake courses or going to part-time and needing six years or more to get a degree. If you are struggling with the decision of going to school or not, consider your alternatives first.

Trade School

Many careers do not require a 4 year degree. Some only want to know that you have received training to perform all that will be required of you and some type of certification. You may have been able to attend a vocational school while still in high school to get the training so you only need to take a certification test. If you did not get all you needed while in high school, there are a number of trade schools where you can go for anywhere from 4 weeks to 18 months depending on the field and how much you need to learn.

Associate's Degree

Another option to a 4 year degree is getting a two year degree from a community college. The main difference is that you will not be taking the core courses. You will start in on the classes you need that specifically pertain to your future career. While an accountant needs to have math skills and some business acumen, there is not a need for a physical science. If, after you have a two year degree, you want to go on and get a four year degree, you can do it slowly while working in the field of your choice. This is becoming more and more popular as students realize they can start working with the knowledge they receive at a two year institution.


Years ago, apprenticeships were common. You went to work for a professional, starting off doing pretty menial tasks, and were taught the trade or profession. There are still apprenticeships available, you just need to look for them and ask around. You will be making a decent wage while learning. Once the training is over, you can take any required tests for certification or a license.

While a four year degree is still probably the best way to go, do not feel you will never have a good career if you just cannot do it. Look into the different alternatives and get things started. The longer you wait, the harder it is and the longer it will be before you are finished and working.

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