Author Topic: What to do when college isn't for you?  (Read 7949 times)

TheValentines

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What to do when college isn't for you?
« on: May 19, 2014, 09:42:56 PM »
As it turns out neither my wife or I are made for college. We've both tried, several times, and it just always is a reminder of how much we hate life while we're there. I mean, it's taken her nearly 4 years and she doesn't even have her AA degree yet. I can't say that my odds are much better. I have gone about 5 semesters and I have only ever completed one full one.

Anyway, so now what do we do? She is a waitress and I am a SAHM. I've thought of getting certified in different things; yoga, birth doula, child birth educator etc, but I don't know if I could make a living off of those things.

It's still possible for us to succeed without college, right?

ch12

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2014, 09:55:35 PM »

Anyway, so now what do we do? She is a waitress and I am a SAHM. I've thought of getting certified in different things; yoga, birth doula, child birth educator etc, but I don't know if I could make a living off of those things.

It's still possible for us to succeed without college, right?

Of course it's possible.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/07/25/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-1/
http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2013/08/05/50-jobs-over-50000-without-a-degree-part-2/

Getting certified in things is very good. You don't need a college degree to do things; frankly, one of my friends has his associate's, and he hasn't been able to get a job better than what he would get as a high school grad. Find something that you wouldn't mind doing and get a job doing that. You can be 100% fine without college.

SDREMNGR

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2014, 10:03:13 PM »
By "succeed" I'm taking it to mean making "good" money.

Of course.  But the things it takes for one to be successful in a non-college degree job are the same skills that it take to succeed in college, namely - dedication & perseverance, goal setting, hard work, focus, etc.  So you've got to figure out exactly why you aren't doing well in college and take an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses and why you have not had success in college.

It may be that  you are not interested in it.  It may be that you feel lost and don't know what good it is to go to college.  It may be that you have a hard time focusing on one thing when there are a bunch of other things going on. 

Researcher Angela Duckworth found that "grit" was the single most predictive trait in a person that led to success; not intelligence, not good looks, not good health, etc.  Grit was defined as "passion and perseverance for very long term goals (finishing college!!!).  Grit is stamina and sticking with your future, day in and day out, for years, and working really hard at it to make that future a reality. 

Here's her speech.
http://www.ted.com/talks/angela_lee_duckworth_the_key_to_success_grit
« Last Edit: May 19, 2014, 10:10:42 PM by SDREMNGR »

sleepyguy

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2014, 10:08:31 PM »
I'm 35, my entire life I've pretty much could not stand inside a classroom.  From east asian background my parents obviously wanted me to become a doctor, lol.  I finished highschool, then dabbled a single semester in college (did it as favor for parents) and then dropped out for good.  I see the value in university/college but cannot stand the classroom and memorizing test.

I'm glad to tell you I'm not in a street corner with a hat in hand ;)  I ran a PC support business for many years, started as a summer thing to do before school started again and then i was getting pretty regular customers.  That led to working at a financial institution doing IT support and led me to being a Systems Administrator for quite a few yrs now (10yrs i think).  I'm also an avid poker player which is great side income and you get to put in your own hrs.  I plan doing reduced hrs in 2019, and possibly call it quits in 2021 from fulltime, we'll see.

Now what if IT career didn't plan out and I still ONLY have a highschool education?  Well, there are plenty of things and I've always had 'backup' plans.  Construction would be an option, Real Estate agent another... and obvious because it suits me... a full time poker player.

I have no regrets not taking the "regular" path in life.  Life is good, no debts, great GF, 2 great kids and a bright steady (FIRE) future.
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HarbingerofBunnies

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2014, 07:03:59 AM »
What do you like to do? What are you good at?

I am good at sales. All this requires is the right personality, attention to detail, and (in my case) the willingness to learn technical details.
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soccerluvof4

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2014, 07:40:00 AM »
^ +1. I never went to college and have owned several different business's mostly as a resusult of sales.  College is another door opener. I would be a liar if I said I don't have regrets not going and that I want my kids to go BUT I also ask myself if I would of accomplished what I did. Went in the military at 17 right after HS and worked alot of Jobs to figure out what I wanted to do (industry). Then I learned all I could to start my own business.

Good Luck to you! But yes you can be successful not going to college.
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stpetesean

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2014, 08:37:01 AM »
http://profoundlydisconnected.com/

Love the things that Mike Rowe is doing to promote alternative career paths that don't require traditional college.

hs

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2014, 09:43:08 AM »
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com/2013/12/dirty-jobs-mike-rowe-on-high-cost-of.html
Here is a beautiful, albeit long, interview with Mike Rowe. My husband and I both have doctoral-level degrees, but strongly question the value of most degrees when you factor in cost of the degree, real improvement of employment opportunities, and opportunity costs (ten+ years that could have been spent doing almost anything else).

Gimesalot

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2014, 12:03:54 PM »
Although you can make money by teaching yoga, being a hairstylist, birth doula, to make really good money, you need to own your own business.  So you won't make a lot of money teaching yoga, unless you happen to do it at your own studio, where other teachers work for you.  Similar things can be said for being a hairstylist and similar professions. 

If you are willing to work with your hands, I know that there is a huge shortage of metal working skills in the gulf coast and other parts of the country.  Welders and pipe fitters are in huge demand, and are raking in the cash.  However, most employers will want you to have a certification.  In my area, that requires about 2 years of vocational learning at the local community college.  Since it is vocational, there is a mix of hands-on learning, but there is also a classroom component.

milla

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2014, 04:07:36 PM »
My husband tried so hard with college. He just... is happier without it. He finished an AA and most of a BS. It was honestly making him so stressed and physically ill and I kinda hated his guts all the time. We decided to let it go.
He is a very technical guy and can fix just about anything you put in front of him and had been working in IT kind of by chance.. he got a job working with a storage company and he learned how to set up, manage and troubleshoot giant storage arrays- that's profitable. He also learned a lot about data protection and recovery- also profitable.
Right now he is working with a friend's company doing more small time stuff. He works part time for now so he pulls in 50k/year. Definitely sufficient for our needs and more but they don't have more work for him and we're not stashing as much. We've decided we're fine with this and everyone is happier. He is getting into programming with Treehouse now.

I on the other hand have the traditional college education. He makes more than twice as much per hour.

Weedy Acres

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2014, 04:40:23 PM »
The big non-college money right now is in the skilled trades.  They require an apprenticeship, which includes some classroom and some OJT.  Do you have any aptitudes in that direction?  Don't limit yourself to "traditional" women's career paths...unless that's what you really enjoy.  The trades these days aren't all about hefting heavy stuff around like they used to be.  If you like making stuff, or fixing stuff, there are lots of opportunities.

zataks

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2014, 04:57:26 PM »
+1 for the skilled trades.  Not all require apprenticeships (water and wastewater operators, for example..  However, you do need to acquire certifications before getting a job in that field given the climate of the market, currently.)

Knowing someone's location (state/province & country) make recommendations to the relevant governing bodies for certain trade fields easier but generally, I recommend utility (water, sewer, wastewater, electric company, etcetc) jobs for many people.  Especially those who are bright and hard working but did not get a college degree (me.). 

 

ch12

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2014, 05:20:25 PM »
^ +1. I never went to college and have owned several different business's mostly as a resusult of sales.  College is another door opener. I would be a liar if I said I don't have regrets not going and that I want my kids to go BUT I also ask myself if I would of accomplished what I did. Went in the military at 17 right after HS and worked alot of Jobs to figure out what I wanted to do (industry). Then I learned all I could to start my own business.

Good Luck to you! But yes you can be successful not going to college.

It's not a closed door - going now doesn't mean that you can never go in the future. The UW Flex Option is a great way to get a college degree (especially for all the people who went into IT without a degree).
http://flex.wisconsin.edu/

CarDude

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2014, 05:43:19 PM »
Does college include associate programs? Because if you can stomach 2 years, there are a number of well paying careers out there.
CCD. PMC. And other ways of keeping busy.

phred

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2014, 01:43:23 PM »
You might look at the skilled trades side of community college (machinist, chef, mechanic and so on) - not as much book work

While it is frequently oversold, a comprehensive Meyers-Briggs survey may give you some insight as to what work environment you need.  There are various short versions; take the long version.

TheValentines

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #15 on: May 21, 2014, 10:44:00 PM »
Everyone has had some really helpful suggestions and I'm feeling more optimistic about our situation. To answer some questions that were asked:

Why college isn't working.. for her I suppose it's because she isn't too book smart. She is extremely competent, has always been promoted to trainer or manager in every job she has ever worked, always has amazing reviews etc, she just does do too hot in school. I think it also has something to do with the fact that her parents took her out of school when she was in 9th grade and she started working full-time at 16. She worked really hard to get her GED and then work her way up through college classes, but it's really hard for her.

For me- I have no idea. I am super smart, I graduated a year early when I was 16, was in all the honors/advanced classes and never had an issue with school. I'm interested in the arts, but I don't want to waste all that money on a music or theatre degree.

She is more open to hands on stuff. She likes building, fixing, and repairing things. She likes to keep active and isn't afraid of getting dirty. She is great with people and is super personable. We will have to take another look at our vocational options at the community college.

I would be the opposite of that. Ha.

We live in Florida if it makes a difference for suggestions.

Thanks everyone!

SDREMNGR

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2014, 12:41:42 AM »
There are two schools of thought.  1st one says that you should work on your weaknesses and overcome them and get better at the things that you are not good at.  The 2nd says that you should follow your strengths and work a career or passion in things that you like and are good at and get really good at those.

I suppose for each person it's some combination of both.  No use trying to become something you are not good at just because you think you should.  Knowing the difference between quitting and moving on probably just comes down to wisdom and self-knowledge.

okonumiyaki

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2014, 01:05:57 AM »
Join the armed forces?  One of my cousins wasn't cut out for college, joined the navy first as a comms operator, then switched to plumbing (lots & lots of pipes on ships and navy bases both...)  When he got out he was a trained plumber, and has been very comfortable ever since.

vern

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2014, 01:16:16 AM »
I read this post on another finance forum...

"I'm a doctor. 
My brother is a plumber.
He makes more money than I do and he doesn't have $280,000 in student loans."

I never went to college and still managed to retire at 47.  Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, police officers, firemen, etc...these are all decent careers that can't be outsourced. 

Best of luck!

http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/01/8-alternatives-to-college/

http://www.jamesaltucher.com/2011/01/10-more-reasons-why-parents-should-not-send-their-kids-to-college/

Also check out "The College Conspiracy" on youtube.

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homeymomma

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #19 on: May 22, 2014, 09:21:52 AM »
As it turns out neither my wife or I are made for college. We've both tried, several times, and it just always is a reminder of how much we hate life while we're there. I mean, it's taken her nearly 4 years and she doesn't even have her AA degree yet. I can't say that my odds are much better. I have gone about 5 semesters and I have only ever completed one full one.

Anyway, so now what do we do? She is a waitress and I am a SAHM. I've thought of getting certified in different things; yoga, birth doula, child birth educator etc, but I don't know if I could make a living off of those things.

It's still possible for us to succeed without college, right?

How about doing a certification program, like becoming certified as an ultrasound technician? There are so many short programs for niche work in healthcare, as I found out (only after!) going to nursing school. Grr.
Becoming a doula is a fun thing, but might be hard to make a good living at. You can't take on too many clients per month because you can't have too many conflicts, even with a backup. You also have to have good childcare available at the drop of a hat, in the middle of the night, which is not always available to a SAHM.
Childbirth education could be a good option regardless of whatever else you do, because you could do it on nights and weekends.
If childbirth/women's care is of interest to you, get connected with your local midwives/doulas/clinics and try to make some connections. If nothing else you will get a good idea of what each option means in terms of time commitments and pay (though it takes a while to break into these areas and make a name for yourself).
Good luck!

libertarian4321

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #20 on: May 22, 2014, 09:29:07 AM »

It's still possible for us to succeed without college, right?

I hear Bill Gates and Michael Dell are doing pretty well without it. :)

phred

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #21 on: May 22, 2014, 11:55:24 AM »
Why college isn't working.. for her I suppose it's because she isn't too book smart. She is extremely competent,
Your wife sounds like a young woman I once met.  She was the sharpest, brightest most intelligent person I had ever met.  However, she was just not a scholar.  Her intelligence was completely natural rather than textbook induced.

Wife might look into event planner or event co-ordinator; there will be plenty of stuff to fix as tradesmen never show up or scheduling impacts

phred

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #22 on: May 22, 2014, 12:00:30 PM »
There are two schools of thought.  1st one says that you should work on your weaknesses and overcome them and get better at the things that you are not good at.  The 2nd says that you should follow your strengths and work a career or passion in things that you like and are good at and get really good at those.

Life is too short to spend time on weaknesses.  At best, with a lot of effort, you will end up as mediocre.  Perhaps get up to a barely socially acceptable level, then stop.  Follow your strengths.  If something seems so easy that it can't possibly be important, that may be your singular strength.

Real passion generally doesn't appear until after you've mastered your trade

Hedge_87

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #23 on: May 22, 2014, 06:25:12 PM »
I only have a  associates degree and I'm doing alright as a lineman/substation tech. There are lots of great paying jobs out there that are in demand. Just look at your skill set and try and find something that fits.
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MBot

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #24 on: May 22, 2014, 09:28:03 PM »
As it turns out neither my wife or I are made for college. We've both tried, several times, and it just always is a reminder of how much we hate life while we're there. I mean, it's taken her nearly 4 years and she doesn't even have her AA degree yet. I can't say that my odds are much better. I have gone about 5 semesters and I have only ever completed one full one.

Anyway, so now what do we do? She is a waitress and I am a SAHM. I've thought of getting certified in different things; yoga, birth doula, child birth educator etc, but I don't know if I could make a living off of those things.

It's still possible for us to succeed without college, right?

How about doing a certification program, like becoming certified as an ultrasound technician? There are so many short programs for niche work in healthcare, as I found out (only after!) going to nursing school. Grr.
Becoming a doula is a fun thing, but might be hard to make a good living at. You can't take on too many clients per month because you can't have too many conflicts, even with a backup. You also have to have good childcare available at the drop of a hat, in the middle of the night, which is not always available to a SAHM.
Childbirth education could be a good option regardless of whatever else you do, because you could do it on nights and weekends.
If childbirth/women's care is of interest to you, get connected with your local midwives/doulas/clinics and try to make some connections. If nothing else you will get a good idea of what each option means in terms of time commitments and pay (though it takes a while to break into these areas and make a name for yourself).
Good luck!

I don't know what it takes where you are, but ultrasound technicians (technologists here) take a 4-year undergraduate degree or a graduate program. There may still be ways to get in the "back door" with places that allow you to take just the Burwin course or whatever, but generally new hires would require a degree. (I am a cardiac sonographer who went through a graduate program).

That said, if that option exists, things like the Burwin courses can be great!

TheValentines

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2014, 01:25:36 AM »
So we did some talking tonight and my wife has said that she wants be able to fix/flip houses. She wants to know how to be able to do the work herself, not just buying the houses and hiring out contractors. Our community college offers a BS degree in construction and a AS in construction technology. Is this type of degree useful? Neither of us know much about the field, but it seems like it's something right up her alley.

She we move forward with this? If it makes a difference she gets grants, so we wouldn't be taking out loans in order for her to go. I just don't want her to waste her time getting a degree that will serve her no purpose. Are there any better options?

Oh and FWIW I tried talking her into something like plumbing or electrical and she isn't too interested in either of those. She says that she likes taking things apart and putting them back together and/or building things.

zataks

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2014, 06:37:44 AM »
Oh and FWIW I tried talking her into something like plumbing or electrical and she isn't too interested in either of those. She says that she likes taking things apart and putting them back together and/or building things.

So what sort of work does she want to be doing on houses then?  Plumbing is ALL taking this apart and reassembling them or building systems from scratch.  Electrical is more the latter but can have rebuilding involved too depending what you're working on.  She'd better have a solid handle on both for housing speculation if she doesn't want to hire anyone.  Carpentry comes in extremely handy as well.  So does masonry. 
No schooling is necessary for this either although a healthy amount of capital is a good idea.  Buy a house, fix it up, sell it.  Where does formal education come in?  This sounds more like "Oh, I'd like to flip houses." is a noncommittal, little thought out response to what she wants to do.  Maybe try this conversation again?
I can't really see construction tech/management being beneficial unless she were already working construction and trying to move away from a laborer position to foreman/crew leader/manager. 

HarbingerofBunnies

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2014, 06:51:31 AM »
A degree to learn how to fix houses sounds like a terrible idea.

Like many others have suggested elsewhere, if you want to learn without doing an apprenticeship, volunteer for Habitat or (at the right time of year) the various charities that help poor people weatherize and such.
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Weedy Acres

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #28 on: May 23, 2014, 08:08:07 AM »
Carpentry sounds like it might be the best fit in the construction trades.  Fitter/welder is another "constructive" sort of trade that might be of interest, though less transferable to house rehabbing.  Have her call around to some local contractors and find out how to get on as an apprentice.  If you don't know who's in your area, contact your local chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (abc.org) and they'll give you a member list. 

Volunteering with HFH is a good idea too, as you can network with people in the trades, they can see your work, and it could help you get on somewhere. 

mm1970

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #29 on: May 23, 2014, 08:29:11 AM »
So there is not a lot of semiconductor work anymore, but we have equipment technicians who take things apart and put them back together.  They make a decent salary.

If she could get a certification - you say she's really good at management.  Direct supervisors need college degrees more and more (they don't "need" it, but some companies require it.  So says our facilities manager, who also takes things apart and puts them back together, but doesn't have a degree)

sleepyguy

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Re: What to do when college isn't for you?
« Reply #30 on: May 27, 2014, 03:18:13 PM »
Here in Toronto, 6 figures driving a bus or booth collector for the TTC (with OT)... obviously mind numbing work but an powerful union, good pension and you need just highschool.  Obviously it's hard to get into but just saying there are jobs where you can make decent wage without much education at all.
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