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Alternatives to College for Graduating Seniors


Especially for upperclassmen, it seems like everybody is caught up in college craziness. Perhaps those who just can’t get excited about attending a four-year college and are considering alternative higher education options are more hidden.

A good jumping off point for a traditional four-year college more suitable for students without high GPAs is the U.S. News and World Report’s list of the top 100 colleges with the highest acceptance rates. This list includes both state and private colleges.

Some colleges offer unique and innovative approaches to education. For example, Evergreen State College near Olympia, Washington has a 96 percent acceptance rate and welcomes students with learning differences. At Evergreen, final exams are based on oral presentations, which may appeal to students looking for an alternative approach to the traditional written exam.

Likewise, Lyndon State College in Vermont is a four-year school with a 99 percent acceptance rate and a wide variety of majors. Lyndon advertises on-the-spot-admissions for students who visit.

Students should also keep in mind that under the DC TAG (Tuition Assistance Grant) program, the District provides up to $10,000 to reduce the pay gap between in- and out-of-state residents attending state colleges and universities.. Students should remember to  renew their applications early for each year of their college attendance.

For students who have a low GPA or low SAT scores, there are many schools that accept students who have only a high school diploma or a GED.

A hidden gem of such a college is Indian River State College in Fort Pierce, Florida. Located near the beach about an hour north of West Palm Beach, it offers two- and four-year degree programs and accepts all high school graduates. Yearly tuition at Indian River State for DC residents receiving TAG awards is only $2,700.

Students who want to stay closer to home should look at community colleges,  which accept all high school graduates on the theory that everyone deserves a chance to obtain a higher education. Many of these colleges are cheaper and offer sports, extracurricular activities, and residential housing.

The Princeton Review guide, “The K& W Guide to Colleges for Students with Learning Differences” can help students with ADHD or other learning disabilities find a school that will fit their needs. . The Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship in Piney Point, Maryland provides another way to prepare for the “real world”. It provides those who complete their residential program (for free) with a seaman’s union card and guaranteed employment in the shipping industry with full health and pension benefits.

Working in the police force does not require a four-year college education. Some departments require an associate’s degree, equivalent to  two years of college.  Most cities and states require an examination and provide free training. These civil service jobs are usually well paid and have good benefits.

There are many opportunities waiting for students who take the time to seek out alternative career paths!


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