What Are the Options If I Don’t Want to Go to College?

red and yellow entrance doors

As senior year commences and your friends discuss college applications and plans to continue school, it might feel uncomfortable to admit that you’re not making the same plans. Finding the courage to say “I don’t want to go to college” can be a difficult task for many reasons.

First, society generally believes that attending college is the best way to launch your career, find employment and achieve your goals.

Second, college is such a second nature path following high school that the next obvious question will be, “what will you do instead?” This isn’t an easy question either.

Why Students Pass on College

Before we begin, let’s break down some of the reasons why you may be against going to college at this time. There a number of reasons why students and college graduates don’t want to attend college.

  • Financial issues – Perhaps you think that college is too expensive. If this is the case, it’s important to remember that there are a number of financial aid resources, including scholarships and grants that aren’t just reserved for valedictorian and individuals with perfect grades. Many college students also work their way through school to afford education and minimize debt.
  • Low grades – Sometimes students don’t want to attend because their grades are low and college feels too difficult, or they don’t believe they have a chance of being admitted. Universities of all shapes and sizes have tutors, counseling programs and more to help students overcome any educational hurdles they have so they can find success. There are also options to begin at a local community college so you can build up a track record to transfer to a school of your choice.
  • Separation anxiety – Finally, you may think college is a waste of time, or something that will force you to leave family and friends. If this is true, remember that college has many real-life benefits, including benefits that aren’t job-based. And if you are certain that you don’t want to go far to school, you can choose an institution nearby or consider an online program.

If you’ve thought these reasons over and are still sure that you don’t want to attend, and that your reason is valid, here are some things you can do!

What Are My Options If I Don’t Go to College?

Although you may know that college is not the right choice for you at this time, there’s no obvious bullet point of options you can turn to as an alternative. This list is here to help you choose some positive and realistic options to attending college.

Start a Business

This is a great time to pursue an idea or skill that you have on your own. There is no requirement to have a four-year degree to start your own business. Maybe you’re great at photography, farming, cutting hair, or have a new tech idea. As long as you are passionate, learning good business skills and willing to commit to the idea this can be one of the best decisions that you make.

Start Working

There are a number of places that you can find employment even if you do not possess a college degree. This is particularly good if you doing a gap year and not sure if you will want to attend college at a later date. Working builds important skills, helps you to provide for yourself and will allow you to save money.


Consider joining a volunteer organization where you can learn about the world, travel and devote your time to a good cause that is important to you. Many young people find their career and callings through volunteer work.

Join the Military

The service is a great way to not only give back to your country, but achieve a career and experience after college. There are a host of opportunities within each branch of military that may be right for you.

Enroll in a Technical School

Enroll in a technical school or join a fellowship to learn a trade that you can work with or pursue in another way.

How to Tell Parents That I Don’t Want to Go to College?

Once you’ve made this decision, you might be wondering how to tell your parents. Though it is likely to be an unpleasant conversation, it’s better to start it as early as you can. Remember that they will support you whatever you decide, so don’t be afraid to tell them the truth.


Honesty is the most important thing and having a plan is also key to making the conversation productive.


Explain your reasons for not wanting to attend college and stress that this decision does not have to be a permanent one, that you can choose to attend at any time.

In fact, older college students often have more success because they are more mature.


As you express these desires, be sure to present your alternative plan so they know you will still be productive with your time and desire to accomplish things as an adult.


It will help them to respect your decision and support you along the way, even if your choice comes as a shock. Understand their concern and come to a consensus that works for your entire family.

Final Takeaway

As you can see, choosing not to attend college is still as much work and takes just as much decision making going to college, but it can be worth your while if you plan it properly! Create a valid plan for yourself and be confident in your decision! Own it and you will find great success in whatever you choose to do.

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