Ask Jess: Realistic Alternatives to College?

Q: I am thinking about putting off college to follow what is currently my one true passion, and that is my love for a certain person. Would it be unwise to focus on making this work instead of going to college?

A: Thank you for the great question!  Love and higher education are two giant decisions in life.  🙂

While I keep a blog “Life Without College”, I sense that you understand that I am not anti-college in any way; I simply acknowledge that it is not the only path to success. That said, I strongly believe that forgoing college to pursue a love interest – no matter how strong – is rather rash, if college is the way in which one wishes to pursue being able to support a family.  Facts are, if you love someone, you want to set up house with them, and most people want to have kids.  And that is just not possible if you don’t have a way to make money; or, at least, enough money to support a family.

On this blog, as you probably know, I often speak of pursuing your passions in life, which college can often hinder, if misused.  And that is not to discredit love, for it is a passion in life.  Unfortunately, nobody makes a living from being in love.

There is nothing saying a person should not pursue love; however, the need to support oneself, and/or a family, becomes immediately important.  The key is being realistic. Therefore, I must say to you that if you seriously do not want to go to college, then you should plan to take steps to pursue another way of making money.

This may mean working at Chick-fil-a to fund you ability to attend entrepreneur seminars, or something similar.  You might start up an online portfolio and build a name for yourself that way through blogging about something you are interested in.  You could travel around the world farming, get you pilot license or SCUBA certification, or have an apprenticeship under a luthier and learn how to make guitars.

The possibilities for what to do with your life are endless, and that is a wonderful thing!  But they must also be acted upon, and that is what I want to stress to you, and everyone out there.  If one makes the decision to not go to college, one needs to take one’s chosen alternative route very seriously.

Here are a couple great and inspiring resources for doing just that:

Timothy Ferriss is a one-of-a-kind fellow.  An incredible entrepreneur, he has created ways to ensure that he has enough time and money to pursue whatever his current passion might be (for instance, boxing, tango, backpacking in Central America, etc.)  He has written a book called “The Four-Hour Work Week”, and he also keeps a pretty awesome blog about a lot of things.  Here’s the link to his archive for entrepreneurship-related blog posts:

Blake Boles is another really extraordinary guy.  When he was in college, he discovered self-directed learning while reading “Dumbing Us Down” by John Taylor Gatto.  6 years later, he now works full-time with self-directed teens and young adults, running his company Unschool Adventures ( and, most recently, starting up his project “Zero Tuition College”, a fantastic alternative to “normal college” that fosters self-directed higher education

The list above will probably be turned into the “Resources” page, which will surely be added to over time.  Stay tuned!


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