Yep. We quit college. You probably think we’re crazy — and a few years ago, I would’ve agreed with you! But a little research and some creativity totally changed my perspective on the need for a college degree (and all the debt it comes with!).
My husband and I know a thing or two about the disappointment that comes with higher-education sticker shock.
While I was able to complete some coursework to become a preschool teacher — a career field that turned out NOT to be a lifelong pursuit for me — my husband wasn’t so fortunate.
I married my husband in 2007. He, too, attended college for a short time, mostly doing technical theater. However, even with all the time we devoted to coursework for career choices that weren’t right for us, NEITHER of us ever finished a degree of any kind.
Don’t get me wrong. We LOVE learning, but sticking in college just wasn’t panning out.
Fast forward to 2009. My husband got accepted to a very prestigious and well-known special effects and animation school in Northern California. We were SO excited. And then the sticker shock set in.
$80,000 for tuition — and that wasn’t even including housing for the both of us! No one in our family could even qualify to co-sign on that monster of a student loan.
Talk about complete and utter defeat.
My husband passed every test, completed every application, and jumped through every hoop. He was in! He was on his way to work with some of the most talented minds in the film-making industry! But then money happened — or, rather, the lack thereof.
I was heartbroken for him. I was so sad that this opportunity was slipping out of his reach. BUT then something happened that I really didn’t anticipate.
We both felt a HUGE sense of relief.
Why? Because we couldn’t imagine what the heck it would be like to live with that weight of debt as we tried to build our lives. We felt a moral satisfaction to be able to walk away from it — like we were saved from a whole different kind of grief.
And that was that. We haven’t pursued traditional education since, and we are both SO glad we haven’t.
Late spring of last year I discovered a website called Proofread Anywhere — a blog owned by Cailtin Pyle. (You can read my in-depth review on it here.) Caitlin took her experience as a professional transcript proofreader for court reporters and turned it into an amazing online course to train other people — with no prior experience — how to proofread for court reporters and make a living doing it — from home!
I was intrigued.
After some vacillating for a while on whether or not I should enroll (Let’s be real. There are a LOT of scams out there on the Internet.), my husband and I decided it was a good opportunity for me to gain a skill and earn some income from home. I had my reservations, but ultimately I went for it.
And then I discovered a world I had NO idea existed — the world of nontraditional online education. And by nontraditional, I mean courses made by successful professionals (not professors!) who have HUGE amounts of expertise and want to share it with people for WAY less than colleges charge.
Holy debt-free education, Batman!
Here are the three advantages to these nontraditional courses (and why I’m glad we quit college!):
1. No. Student. Loans.
Can I get an amen?? Finding creative ways to become experienced and educated saved us from mountains of crushing debt. Were we debt-free? Nope, but we are now! With the education I received from these amazing courses (Yes, plural! There are many!), we were able to pay off all our debt and live in debt-free bliss!
2. No wasted time.
The training I received from these amazing professionals took a tiny fraction of the time to complete than taking the traditional college route. I’m talking about saving YEARS of time that is better spent enjoying my family and doing the things I love.
This also means I was able to earn a living years sooner than going through college without sacrificing pay grade.
I didn’t have to waste time on prerequisite courses that have NOTHING to do with my actual career goal, and I didn’t have to waste money on courses that would ultimately be forgotten. Heck. Yes.This doesn’t mean the quality of education was watered down. It’s actually the opposite!
These courses are TARGETED to the niche they train you in. That means they cut out whatever isn’t necessary and focus on the content that will make you excellent at whatever you do. They require a LOT of hard work and dedication, but the pay-off is SO worth it.
3. No pointless degree.
Wait, what? Yep. I said it. I’m not bashing anyone who has worked their behinds off obtaining amazing educational acknowledgments and awards. No way. You all are amazing people and deserve the titles and degrees you’ve earned.
I am bashing the system.
In one of my jobs, I have had the privilege of answering TONS of emails from people heartbroken over having a useless degree they spent THOUSANDS on but couldn’t find work after school. And it is heartbreaking. That amount of time, work, and money should produce fruit — and lots of it!
But in today’s world, degrees simply aren’t delivering the success people expect them to. People with master’s degrees are working desk jobs because they just couldn’t find the work. Really?! What the heck?
This is the problem: Traditional college courses teach ZERO curriculum on marketing and building your business. Zip. Nada. Most people graduate with degrees that don’t give them the know-how to build the actual career. How does that even make sense?
THIS is why I’m glad we quit college. I was able to obtain AMAZING training in skills that are highly sought after AND learn how to actually find and make the money — all for less than one traditional college course. This is something entire degree programs can’t do.
But don’t your clients expect you to have a degree? Nope. Shocked? Don’t be. My clients don’t care whether or not I spent thousands of dollars to earn a degree; they care about whether or not I have the skills. Am I good at what I do? This is all that matters to them. And because of the training I’ve received, I can confidently say, “Yes, I am.”
This, my friends, is the beginning of a new kind of education system — one created and utilized by people who want success without being a slave to a cracked system of endless debt and sub-par results. It’s breaking the cycle, and it’s absolutely amazing.
What about you? Do you think debt-free, targeted training will catch on? Have you taken any unique online courses to help you start your own home business? Comment below and share!