Career Insight

How College Alternatives are Making Students Job-ready for a Fraction of the Cost

How College Alternatives are Making Students Job-ready for a Fraction of the Cost

It’s official. The New York Times declared “anti-college” the new black and Elon Musk will hire you without a high school diploma.

Thinking of veering off the traditional education path yourself? Now’s the perfect time to look into college alternatives.

These programs range from nature retreats to coding boot camps, from traditional vocational schools to shorter-term certification programs. With benefits like job-readiness and cut costs, here are a few reasons why college alternatives are the hip, new thing in 2020.

Teaching Practical Skills and Job-Readiness

When it comes to job-readiness, college alternatives are hitting bullseyes. STEM-focused 3 to 12-month programs focus largely on teaching technical skills for in-demand fields. Some courses are also focusing on soft skills so graduates can learn to thrive in a collaborative, multicultural workforce. Students in these programs are future-proofing their careers by learning practical, in-demand skills that will help them survive and thrive during the automation boom. This creates a win-win situation for graduates and the workforce – something we can get behind!

Fulfilling a Pursuit for Deeper Knowledge

Some college alternatives are scratching an itch for students that more structured university programs haven’t been able to reach. Wayfinding Academy, a two-year program in Portland, Ore., allows students to customize their education based on individual interests and passions. Wayfinding was created by Michelle Jones, a higher ed professional who was fed up with the business-like attitude of traditional institutions. Her students learn real-life skills in classes like “Get Your Money Together,” “Science, Technology & Society,” and “Podcasting.”

Other programs like The Arete Project take students into nature to read classic and contemporary literature and engage in manual labor. Programs like Arete satisfy the desire for deep liberal arts learning and philosophical pondering without the high price tag. That’s more money in your pocket, more knowledge in your head, and more reason to consider a college alternative.

Eliminating the Cost-Barrier 

According to a study by TD Ameritrade, cost may be a big reason many are bypassing traditional universities in 2020. With the national student debt balance sitting at $1.5 trillion, it’s no wonder Gen Z is looking for other options. Many college alternatives come at a fraction of the cost of traditional, four-year university degrees.

In addition to cutting costs, schools like Kenzie Academy are offering Income Share Agreements (ISAs) which allow students to pay no tuition until they secure a job making a certain salary. These agreements are different from student loans as they don’t accrue interest and have a cap on how long the agreement can last. So, not only are students paying less for college alternatives, they’re also making more once they graduate since many of these programs prepare students for careers in STEM – a field known for its high salaries.

With so many new and innovative higher ed programs, the future looks pretty stinkin’ bright for students pursuing alternative forms of education. We can’t wait to see how students in Gen Z and beyond make education their own!


Think a college alternative might be for you? Learn more about our 12-month Software Engineering and UX Design programs, or check out our free beginner’s coding program Kenzie Free.

Alexa Goins

Alexa Goins

Alexa Goins is the Content Marketer at Kenzie Academy. Before she joined the field of higher education marketing, she worked as a journalist and taught English in the South of France. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading non-fiction works, doing embodiment yoga, or planning her next trip to Paris. You can find more of her work at www.alexagoins.com.

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  • Date
    February 6, 2020
  • Posted In
    Career Insight
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