Alternatives to College

Traditional 4-year college at age 18 isn't the best fit for everyone. Some students are ready for college at 14, or even earlier, and some aren't ready until they're 20, or 24, or 34. This page has a lot of ideas for non-traditional ways to spend your teens and 20's.

Early College Programs

Bard College at Simon's Rock is an early college program for students who have finished the first two or three years of high school. Simon's Rock is a two-year co-ed residential campus where students earn an AA and then transfer to other highly selective colleges to finish their bachelor's degrees.

The PEG Program at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia accepts girls who have finished 8th grade and are ready for college before high school. The students live in a "fully-supervised, state-of-the-art residence hall with their true peers" on the Mary Baldwin campus, and take classes with the traditional-aged students. They graduate with Bachelor's degrees at the end of four years.

Early College High Schools, most funded by the Gates Foundation, are available in 28 states across the country. These traditional high schools combine two years of high school courses and two years of college courses so all students graduate with an Associate's degree.

Gap Year Programs

Click here for some Gap Year Program ideas.

No College At All, AKA Life-long Learning

Post-secondary education doesn't have to be 4-years-and-football, with an end to learning at graduation. If you're not ready to commit to college, there might be better ways for you to spend the end of your teens and early twenties. You can work, travel, start a business, build a network. You can take online classes--through university degree program or through a free MOOC platform--or attend a specialized program, like a welding course or a Dev Bootcamp. You can find a way to do what you want to do. These books might give you some ideas if you're unsure, or if you need some helping convincing your family. Going outside the norm can scare parents.