There aren’t any workbooks of college vocabulary words, and that’s a shame.
Remember those vocabulary workbooks you had to go through in grade school? If your school was like mine, we had a new chapter each week with 20 different vocabulary words.
We would first have to memorize the words. Then pick their meaning in multiple choice questions. And then to make sure we really understood them, we would have to write sentences and use the word correctly.
It would be kind of ridiculous to do a vocab workbook in a college course. Although I think college students who don’t utilize the benefits of reading end up with weak vocabulary skills.
And then when it’s time to write a paper, give a class presentation, or communicate good interview answers, they lack the right words that would help them give the best impression.
Instead, they’re stuck saying “very,” “you know what I mean,” and “awesome.”
To address this need, I went overboard and compiled a list of 101 college vocabulary words to improve your speech and writing.
This list started at 50 words, then I got ambitious and went for 75 because I had more to say. Then I went ham to reach 101 words. And this list is in alphabetical order.
You’ll see that I didn’t try to find the biggest words, but I aimed to find the most practical words that you might not know or would give you a helpful refresher.
If you’re really up for a challenge, aim to use one of these words in conversation or your writing each day (related post: words successful people don’t say).
And don’t hold your breath when reading because, as I mentioned, this is a long list.
101 College Vocabulary Words
1. adulation — excessive flattery or praise
Used in a sentence: Self-adulation is one of the worst traits of good leaders because it leads them to corruption.
2. adulterate — make something worse by adding to it
Used in a sentence: To get his kids bigger, the parent adulterated their chocolate smoothie by mixing in protein the kids didn’t know about until tasting.
3. aesthetic — relating to beauty
Used in a sentence: Anyone who sees the celebrity’s mansion that overlooks the ocean will have an aesthetic appreciation for the home.
4. amicable — friendly and agreeable spirit
Used in a sentence: When you’re looking for sympathy, find an amicable friend who will help you relax.
5. amok — behave in an out of control fashion
Used in a sentence: After Jenny saw a shark in the ocean 25 feet away, she swam amok to the beach.
6. analogous — comparable or similar
Used in a sentence: Samantha’s new boyfriend looks analogous to her previous ex-boyfriends.
7. antithesis — the exact opposite of someone, something, or some idea
Used in a sentence: The two presidential candidates are the antithesis to each other when it comes to their beliefs on foreign policy: one prefers isolationism and the other prefers interventionism.
8. apathetic — having no emotion, feeling, or concern
Used in a sentence: The defense lawyer’s appeal for mercy on his client’s 5-year prison sentence didn’t sway the apathetic judge.
9. assuage — to provide relief and make less intense
Used in a sentence: After the E. coli outbreak in its restaurants, Chipotle assuaged its customers with an offer for a free burrito.
10. asylum — protection granted by a country for a political refugee who has left their native country, or a place of safety
Used in a sentence: Many political refugees seek asylum when they believe they will be killed in their native country if they’re forced to return.
11. audacious — willing to take bold risks
Used in a sentence: Alexander the Great is known as an audacious leader who conquered an indescribable amount of land during his reign as king.
12. banal — lacking originality so it’s boring
Used in a sentence: If you want the same movie over and over again, even if it’s your favorite it will turn banal.
13. binary — something that consists of two parts
Used in a sentence: The binary compound, which contains two rare chemicals, needs to be investigated further before a comment is made.
14. buttress — something that gives support to another structure
Used in a sentence: If buildings aren’t designed with a proper buttress, they’re likely to break the fire code because they could collapse with enough stress.
15. carpe diem — the idea of living in the moment and not worrying about the future (translates to “seize the day”)
Used in a sentence: I didn’t want to go out, but my housemate said, “It’s senior year and we won’t get to do this after we graduate, carpe diem.”
16. cartographer — one who creates maps
Used in a sentence: Where they previously had to sketch terrains and locations by hand, cartographers have utilized computer software to create stunning maps.
17. caveat — a warning about a particular statement that should be remembered
Used in a sentence: Stores will offer amazing discount deals to their customers, only to include a major caveat when they check out that makes the offer less of a home run.
18. circumspect — carefully thinking about all the possible consequences and effects before doing something
Used in a sentence: To keep his reputation in good shape with his colleagues, Dr. Huiyt acted circumspect with his finding before publishing it in Scientific American.
19. clairvoyant — seeing events in the future
Used in a sentence: If I was clairvoyant about future sporting events, you better believe I would go to Vegas and make millions off of sports bets.
20. colloquial — using informal language in conversation
Used in a sentence: Instead of speaking eloquently like his father and grandfather before him, the new king used colloquial style to address the middle class audience.
21. condone — to accept and allow
Used in a sentence: What is condoned in a fraternity house, wouldn’t be condoned in a church.
22. conformist — a person who accepts established behavior
Used in a sentence: You’ll find all rebels on the road less travelled and the conformists in the crowd.
23. crude — in a natural or raw state
Used in a sentence: People without a filter for their words often get in trouble for their crude jokes and expressions.
24. daunting — task that appears difficult to complete, intimidating
Used in a sentence: Living abroad in China for an extended period when you don’t know any Mandarin is a daunting task.
25. decorum — behavior that is well-mannered
Used in a sentence: It’s easy to be a sore loser, but it’s hard to show decorum after losing a championship game.
26. diatribe — abusive and bitter attack through speech or writing
Used in a sentence: Many employees would make a diatribe against their boss if there was no risk of getting fired because of it.
27. dichotomy — a difference between two opposite things
Used in a sentence: There’s a big dichotomy of nature or nurture being more influential in human development.
28. diction — the clearness and effectiveness of enunciation when speaking, or choice of words
Used in a sentence: I didn’t enjoy the play’s opening scene because the actor’s diction and accent made it impossible to hear.
29. didactic — designed to teach people something
Used in a sentence: Teachers who implement didactic and engaging lessons are the ones who help students get the most out of class each day.
30. digress — to go off on a tangent, leave the main subject
Used in a sentence: Although she’s funny, Mrs. Hess would digress too often during class that she always fell behind what she wanted to cover in class.
31. discern — to perceive or recognize something
Used in a sentence: People who are lying tend to look the other person in the eyes for longer because they need to discern if the other person believes them or not.
32. disingenuous — not honest or sincere
Used in a sentence: You can handle a disingenuous salesman, but you don’t want anything to do with a disingenuous doctor.
33. disparate — different from each other, unlike
Used in a sentence: In the 17th century, groups had disparate ideas about the earth being flat or round.
34. e.g. — for example
Used in a sentence: You’d be amazed if you knew all the revenue produced by the top NCAA football programs, e.g. Alabama, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.
35. eclectic — elements from a diverse range of sources
Used in a sentence: Professor Riesling backed up his opinion with an eclectic collection of evidence dating back from 1934 to the present.
36. emulate — match something or something, imitate
Used in a sentence: Little boys like to emulate their father’s words and actions, which is why it’s crucial that the father is a good role model.
37. erudite — having or showing great knowledge
Used in a sentence: If you go to a Rhodes Scholars meeting, you’re going to find a bunch of erudite students in different subjects.
38. eschew — deliberately avoid using something
Used in a sentence: Many alcoholics know that they would be happier if they would eschew from drinking, but they don’t have the self-will to do that.
39. ethereal — extremely light and delicate that seems heavenly
Used in a sentence: The singer’s ethereal voice carried the note so beautifully that I couldn’t believe it.
40. exacerbate — to turn an already bad situation worse
Used in a sentence: He already felt shameful after losing his job, and his girlfriend breaking up with him an hour later only exacerbated his mood.
41. existential — relating to human existence or the experience of existing
Used in a sentence: A traumatic experience of losing a loved one or going to jail can create an existential crisis of where one questions why they’re on earth.
42. extrapolate — to predict or estimate something based on known information
Used in a sentence: Based on the unique wounds of each victim, the detective extrapolated that the murders in March and September are connected.
43. formidable — something that inspires fear or respect
Used in a sentence: The 1985 Chicago Bears had the most formidable defense in NFL history.
44. hackneyed — overused to the point it lacks significance
Used in a sentence: The same hackneyed commercials you see each time you watch a specific television show can get very annoying.
45. halcyon — calm and peaceful
Used in a sentence: When you go paddle boarding as a beginner, it’s much easier to learn on lake water with halcyon waves than the ocean’s wild waves.
46. haughty — arrogant and unfriendly
Used in a sentence: Haughty people make it hard on themselves to find friends, that’s why you’ll see down-to-earth people who always attract a group of friends everywhere they go.
47. i.e. — that is
Used in a sentence: Sometimes the best offense is a good defense and they don’t have it, i.e., a defense that creates turnovers for easy scores.
48. iconoclast — someone who attacks cherished beliefs or institutions
Used in a sentence: Elon Musk is an iconoclast who believes humans are going to live on Mars one day.
49. indenture — a formal contract or document
Used in a sentence: The government of Papua New Guinea agreed to pay for the student to study overseas if he signed an indenture document to come back to work for the government for two years.
50. indolent — wanting to avoid activity or work
Used in a sentence: Indolent people are hard for me to understand, because hard work always pays off to some degree.
51. juxtaposition — the fact of placing two things side by side, usually in contrast
Used in a sentence: When guys continue to skip leg day and only exercise arms, it’s hilarious to view the juxtaposition of their upper body with their lower body.
52. laconic — using very few words, brief
Used in a sentence: I cancelled the service because of my consultant’s laconic instructions that didn’t give me the clarity I needed.
53. leery — cautious based on suspicions
Used in a sentence: Any online business that promises to make you rich quick should make you leery.
54. loquacious — a very talkative person
Used in a sentence: It’s odd when there are two twins, and one is shy and the other is loquacious.
55. matriculate — become a student at a college or university
Used in a sentence: When you have a solid high school GPA and high ACT or SAT score, schools will offer you big scholarships to matriculate at their university.
56. maverick — an independent-minded person
Used in a sentence: If you’re going to be a maverick and do something different, you better be right or the kickback will be hard to swallow.
57. melancholy — a feeling of sadness, depression, or unhappiness
Used in a sentence: Checking Facebook to see pictures of her ex-boyfriend go on vacation with his new girlfriend gave her melancholy thoughts.
58. monetary — relating to money or currency
Used in a sentence: The monetary and psychological benefits of getting reimbursed for gas can go a long way for company morale.
59. myriad — an extremely large, uncountable number of things
Used in a sentence: The couple set up camp in the desert, laid down, and then stared at the myriad of stars across the sky.
60. nefarious — extremely wicked and evil
Used in a sentence: You would have to be nefarious to join the mob and commit crimes on innocent people.
61. obfuscate — make something unclear and obscure
Used in a sentence: The mob is notorious for having people obfuscate the truth with their backdoor deals and money laundering.
62. onerous — involving great effort and difficulty
Used in a sentence: Parents with a new-born baby face the onerous task of taking care of a helpless human life while they get almost zero sleep during the process.
63. orator — one who excels at speaking in public
Used in a sentence: President Obama stood out among other presidential candidates because he’s a master orator.
64. paragon — a model of excellence or perfection
Used in a sentence: Mother Theresa is the paragon of virtue and kindness.
65. partisan — strongly in favor of a person or cause
Used in a sentence: People who take a statement out of context for their partisan view are the worst to talk to.
66. patrician — someone related to a noble or wealthy family
Used in a sentence: Attending boarding school and then Harvard is a patrician upbringing with advantages that other kids dream of.
67. pedagogy — the method and practice of teaching in education
Used in a sentence: Each state requires new teachers to pass pedagogy exams in order to get certified.
68. pedantic — obsessing over little details and rules
Used in a sentence: The best newspaper editors have a pedantic approach to their work, because if they didn’t they’d be out of a job.
69. pejorative — negative language that is used to belittle or criticize
Used in a sentence: The political attack ads use heavy doses of pejorative language to sway voters minds.
70. piety — respect and devotion to a religion or higher power
Used in a sentence: His piety is unquestioned after gave up his corporate job so he could spread Christianity across the world.
71. pragmatic — concentrating on practical results and facts instead of opinion
Used in a sentence: A pragmatic president would seek the counsel of his cabinet before making key decisions.
72. preamble — an opening statement that prepares what’s to come
Used in a sentence: An effective preamble will raise the audience’s anticipation and excitement for the talk.
73. pristine — still pure and in its original condition
Used in a sentence: To make sure the “Mona Lisa” stays as pristine as possible, the famous art is protected inside a sealed enclosure, with thick glass, and a temperature controlled climate.
74. prognosticate — to forecast the future
Used in a sentence: Palm readers claim to prognosticate your major life events based on the lines in your palm.
75. prohibition — an act of forbidding something
Used in a sentence: During the 1920s and early 1930s, the US government placed a prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages.
76. prone — likely to do something
Used in a sentence: Criminals who get out of jail without a change of heart are prone to commit another crime and go back to jail.
77. prudent — having wisdom with the future in mind
Used in a sentence: Warren Buffett is the most prudent investor of all time in most people’s opinion.
78. quibble — a minor objection or criticism
Used in a sentence: Rich people don’t quibble over tipping and service charges like the middle-class and poor do.
79. quintessential — a perfect, model example of a specific quality
Used in a sentence: The quintessential meathead goes to the gym twice a day to stack muscle onto his already huge arms, bouldered shoulders, and athletic legs.
80. relegate — dismiss to a lower rank or less important position
Used in a sentence: European soccer team Hull City were relegated from the Premier League in 2015.
81. renege — to not fulfill a commitment
Used in a sentence: Boxers who renege on their deal to show up and fight can get sued by the event promoters.
82. rescind — to take back, repeal
Used in a sentence: The informant lied to the FBI so the government had to rescind his immunity.
83. sage — a very wise person
Used in a sentence: Ambitious business people could speed up their career achievement by finding a sage in their field to mentor them.
84. salient — most important or prominent
Used in a sentence: When you’re choosing what job to take, it’s helpful to know your salient priority: salary, location, culture, opportunity, etc.
85. simpleton — a foolish or gullible person
Used in a sentence: No one in there right mind would call Aristotle a simpleton.
86. shoddy — poorly made or done
Used in a sentence: The phrase “you get what you pay for” highlights the idea that a cheap rate will often lead to shoddy work.
87. shrewd — having or displaying sharp judgement, being clever
Used in a sentence: You’d be a fool to trust your money with some gambler, but trust your money with a shrewd investor and you will make a fortune.
88. spurious — not real or genuine
Used in a sentence: Spurious headlines about celebrities dying are all over the internet as websites use this scam to get more page views.
89. stoic — someone who can persevere through pain or struggle without complaining
Used in a sentence: Normally a stoic, Malachi wept in emotion after hearing the bad news about his hometown.
90. sublime — something excellent, awe-inspiring, or impressive
Used in a sentence: Eating McDonald’s every day will not help you achieve the sublime figure you’re looking to have by this summer.
91. supercilious — behaving as one is superior to others
Used in a sentence: The March Madness bracket pool champion usually responds in a supercilious manner, not recognizing that a lot of luck carried them to victory.
92. superfluous — more than enough
Used in a sentence: When a suspect answers a question so many times it seems superfluous, they often get upset and frustrated in front of the police.
93. symbiotic — relationships between people that are mutually beneficial, or dependent, to each other
Used in a sentence: While celebrities may act like they hate the public attention, celebrities and the media have a symbiotic relationship with one another.
94. syntax — rules that dictate how words are used to form phrases and sentences
Used in a sentence: The media director scolded the intern for publishing the press release that had incorrect syntax.
95. transcendent — beyond the ordinary experience
Used in a sentence: The main claims he had a transcendent encounter with an alien.
96. ubiquitous — seen nearly everywhere you go
Used in a sentence: Apple’s iPhones are ubiquitous across the world, which is why they bring in billions of dollars a year.
97. unilateral — action that is done by or affects only one side
Used in a sentence: When a husband or wife makes a unilateral decision, unhappiness and distrust results from the other side because of the lack of communication and compromise.
98. vernacular — the language spoken by people of a certain region or group
Used in a sentence: When appealing to the common people, it’s a wise move to use their vernacular instead of fancy language.
99. vilify — to communicate very harsh things about someone
Used in a sentence: Newspapers who unfairly vilify private citizens open themselves to be sued for slander.
100. vindicate — to clear from blame or suspicion
Used in a sentence: New DNA evidence vindicated the 40-year-old man who was previously serving time for a crime he didn’t commit.
101. zealot — someone who is uncompromising and fanatical about an ideal
Used in a sentence: Since Bob is a zealot for the New York Yankees, he’s bought season tickets for the past 17 years in a row.
Want more college success content? Order my #1 Amazon bestselling book How To College.
15 Alternatives To College That Make Complete Sense
Society tells you it only makes sense to go to college. I disagree and argue there are 15 legitimate alternatives to college you should seriously consider.
See the contradiction? A guy who went to college and is the author of How To College tells high school seniors to reconsider automatically going to college.
My main concern is with people who go to college “just because” and don’t have a specific reason behind their decision.
Maybe all of their friends are going, their parents expect that, or society’s beaten them down with the pro-college message that doing anything else seems crazy.
What pisses me off is many times people don’t need college to accomplish their life goals—studies show that around 25% of college grads work at jobs that don’t require a degree—but they sign a four to six year contract because they think they have to and wind up with a mountain of debt.
That’s so messed up!
I’m convinced millions of people would be better off if they followed their passion from the start and never went to college.
So I believe you have to be clear and intentional about why you’re going to college. And if you can’t come up with that, don’t go and instead do something else productive.
Plus the true cost of college is much higher than you think. Let me explain.
The True Cost Of College
Opportunity cost refers to the fact that when you make a decision to take one action you miss a benefit of another action.
In this case, going to college means you miss out on the opportunity to work full-time.
So if you’re total cost of college after tuition, living costs, and books is approximately $40,000 a year, that’s not the true cost of college. If you could have made $25,000 a year working full-time (a low income for many of the non-degree jobs listed below), then your true cost is $65,000.
And since the average student spends six years in college—according to Complete College America and the Department of Education—not four, this makes the true cost of college $390,000.
Doesn’t look very good on paper right? That’s because college is plain and simple not a good deal. It’s overpriced and they’ve raised tuition too high.
It makes me sick that some 18 year olds are signing up for college solely on the fact that the media and society say it’s smart, then are stuck paying off debt until they’re 30.
I want to help people see the light that not everyone needs college and they can avoid this depressing plunge into debt.
Take a look at these very enticing alternatives to college.
15 Legitimate Alternatives To College
1. Work a job
Contrary to popular opinion, you can work right away with a high school degree.
All of the following occupations don’t require a college degree and some of them pay extremely well:
- Commercial pilot
- Insurance sales rep
- Medical assistant or secretary
- Criminal detective
- Physical trainer
- Loan officer
- Massage therapist
- Graphic designer
- Web developer
- Computer coder
- Casino gaming manager
- Power plant operator
- Transportation inspector
- Personal care aide
- Subway and streetcar operator
- Farmer or rancher
Obviously you need the skills for jobs like graphic designer and web developer, for example. But this list goes to show that a college degree doesn’t get in your way for most jobs.
And while your peers are paying to learn in college, you’re getting paid to learn on the job. Looks clear to me that you’re winning that deal.
2. Pursue a creative talent
Fancy yourself acting in the big screen, singing on stage, or killing jokes on a set? The time is now to go for it and skip college.
Because the fact of the matter is that it’s easier to support yourself on this pursuit than while providing for a family later on in life.
So give it all you got to become a professional actor, singer, dancer, comedian, or artist in this window of opportunity.
Spend a year auditioning for as many roles as you can and start small to build your skills.
Hustle your butt off for 18 hours a day. Split a studio with five friends. Fight tooth and nail to make your dream become real.
If it’s needed, move to a place like Los Angeles, Austin, or New York.
College won’t help you nearly as much as you can help yourself in these creative fields.
3. Go to trade school
A trade school education can lead to work in painting, woodwork, locksmithing, landscaping, masonry, locksmith, forestry, construction, welding, and other handyman work.
It’s not sexy, but learning a “blue collar” job through a trade school makes a lot of sense when you look at the numbers.
For example, graduates of trade school make $42,000 on average compared to the $48,000 average salary of college graduates.
But when you consider trade school costs significantly less and it generally takes just two years (meaning two more years to make money), the value is through the roof!
If you’re not already convinced this is a bright option, a Rutgers University study found these trade schools at close to 100% job placements. That’s nothing but impressive.
For many of you reading, you can get a fast start to a successful career through trade school.
4. Start a business
So you want to run your own business someday after majoring in business and then working in a Fortune 500 company? Stop there and hold that thought.
Would you be more experienced and business savvy through hearing lectures or by running your own business? The answer is obvious—lessons are best learned through doing.
I’m also convinced that being an entrepreneur offers these very real benefits. Running your own shop will force you to learn to:
- Develop your critical thinking skills
- Master time management
- Overcome objections and make the sale
- Treat customers with the utmost respect and politeness
- Communicate with adults and more diverse people than your friends
- Strengthen your creative muscle through new business and marketing ideas
- Network with other entrepreneurs
- Fail fast and bounce back
Plus thanks to the Internet, it’s never been easier to start a business. Spend $50 to $100 and you’ll have your website up and running.
Then the simple formula to online business success is to find a problem you’re passionate about, solve that problem, and then sell the solution. If the problem affects enough people and is a big enough pain, and your solution is good enough, then you’re in business.
So start small and you will have a chance at starting a thriving business. Don’t try to create the next Facebook, you won’t be able to do it.
And don’t be surprised if your business is profitable or it leads you to a new profitable idea. After all, the guy who sold pet rocks became an online millionaire.
5. Take free online classes
Want an Ivy League education without forking up $200,000 to pay for it? Free online courses are the solution for you.
Online learning sites like Coursera, Harvard Extension, edX, and others have made it cost-free and simple to get your learning on. All you have to do is sign up and you’re getting a world-class education in whatever subject you desire.
This way you’re getting a feel for what subjects you’re passionate about before wasting time paying for college and switching your major four times in your freshman year.
Many 18 year olds could use this extra time before jumping into college. It’s a shame more don’t.
Or you can forgo college altogether by using the knowledge and skills you learned from these classes.
You can use what you learned to pursue another alternative on this list.
If you’re interested, check out this guide to learn how to study at Yale, Harvard, and other top institutions, for free!
6.Travel the world
You could sit in a stuffy building to learn about South American history, or you could forego college and visit Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires.
Seriously just consider what would happen if you traveled the world for one year.
You’ll learn people skills by meeting other travelers and interacting with locals.
You’ll be tested in your travels to navigate the language barrier and unknown living situation.
Most importantly, being outside your comfort zone traveling will help you build self awareness to discover what areas of life are you passionate about and want to explore further.
And you also avoid any future regret for not going. As time flies and you would normally transition through college, a job, and then kids, you may never get the chance to travel the world for an entire year again.
I recommend you do it now while you’re young (wild) and free.
Now if you’re worried about costs, that’s smart to be money conscious but it’s also not a valid excuse.
Because traveling a year is much cheaper than one year of college. And you can work side jobs while you’re traveling—like teach English, bartend, freelance, sell stuff online, and much more.
7. Join the military
Another possible route is to skip college and join the military.
Serving your country is not only a tremendous honor, there’s also a bunch of tangible benefits including:
- A $35,000 salary with increasing pay the longer you’re in service
- Receive diverse training that’s transferable to your future career
- Have your college paid for (not guaranteed)
- Free health care and almost free living costs
- Free travel across the United States and overseas
I know a few people who joined the military out of high school and they all love the discipline and organization it gives them.
Of course there are some downsides to joining the military.
You’re not in control of where you’re deployed. You could be placed in a war zone at any time, depending on global events outside of your control. And although it’s rare, there is the risk of death which you avoid in college and these other alternatives.
8. Become a realtor
Whether you find yourself browsing home prices on Zillow for fun or dreaming about making six figures, another solid replacement to college is becoming a realtor.
As long as people continue needing a place to live, realtors who are good at their job will have money to bring home.
According to PayScale, the average real estate agent makes approximately $51,000—again, no degree needed.
But what I personally love about the realtor profession is your income has no ceiling. The more you hustle to buy or sell houses, the more you make.
That’s true meritocracy!
And the process to be official is simple: Take real estate courses (“tuition” costs less than $1,000—much more favorable than college), pass the state licensing test, and then start helping people buy and sell homes.
Many volunteer and charity organizations would happily have you join their team to serve with them, no college degree needed.
What’s ironic is some people graduate college to become a social worker or serve in the Peace Corps when they could have started volunteering right away.
If volunteering is your passion, you’re welcome for that four year head start.
Organizations like AmeriCorps, the Catholic Volunteer Network, and the Peace Corps is where I would look first. And a simple Google search of what and where you want to volunteer will give you enough information to start applying.
When you’re drawn toward serving others, you’ll get more out of volunteering than studying subjects you don’t care about in a college classroom. Plus, learning empathy and the value of giving back will serve you the rest of your life.
And Jesus and Mother Theresa didn’t go to college did they? The way they loved people will never be forgotten.
Again, you can always volunteer for a year or more and then go to college if you really think that’ll help your future. Why rush into it when it’s not needed to do what you love?
10. Build an audience with content
This is what I’m working on every single day: Publishing content with the goal of building an audience and providing value to them.
I so wish I started this at age 18 instead of age 21, but it is what it is.
So how is this accomplished? There are only three options to publish content and build an audience:
- Start a blog if you enjoy and are best at writing
- Start a podcast if you prefer talking
- Start a YouTube channel if you like being in front of the camera
Those are the three tried and true methods that won’t go away. My recommendation is to start with one of those and then add another or all three mediums once you’re more established.
Thousands of people are making a fortune doing this already. So the path to success is there if you know how to build a community around you.
Honestly, it’d be wise to publish content whether you don’t or do go to college. Having a personal brand and following you can take with you always gives you leverage in the future.
That leverage can be deployed to build your own business or to win interviews and job offers.
11. Go to community college
If you’re still stubborn and think you need some kind of college degree before you’re qualified to work, have you considered an associate’s degree instead of a bachelor’s?
An associate’s degree requires half the time, much less than half the money, and opens doors to some high-quality jobs including:
- Radiation therapist
- Dental hygienist
- Registered nurse
- Air traffic controller
- Computer programmer
- Police officer
- Aerospace engineer
Many of these median salaries are in the high five figures and sometimes six figures—like air traffic controller.
Plus community colleges have some unique benefits like smaller class sizes, more of the professor’s attention, more flexible schedules, and the ability to work while you’re in school.
For example, you’d struggle to get to know your professor if you’re at four-year state school with 250 people in every class.
12. Get a fellowship or apprenticeship
A fellowship or apprenticeship is so appealing to me (if I were 18 again) because they’re hands on jobs where you’re constantly learning through doing, not by hearing lectures and memorizing.
That’s why some fellowships and apprenticeships are taking form and becoming trendy again.
For example, UnCollege offers a 32 week program that includes a voyage, launch, and internship phase. It’s purpose is to help students learn outside of the classroom through experimentation and mentoring.
And one billionaire, Peter Thiel, questions college to the point where he gives around 20 young adults under age 20 a $100,000 fellowship award not to go to college. Isn’t that interesting?
On the website is the statement, “The Thiel Fellowship gives $100,000 to young people who want to build new things instead of sitting in a classroom.”
If you’re interested in learning more or applying for The Thiel Fellowship, click here.
There are also other interesting fellowships and apprenticeships that are a Google click away. If you’re diligent in searching you can find solid options.
13. Create a non-profit
Want a rewarding and life-changing experience like nothing else can offer? Look no farther than starting a non-profit.
Just like starting a business, I recommend your non-profit’s mission starts small by addressing a local need in your community.
Because you’d struggle to make a difference if you tried to take on world hunger or something as complex as cancer.
For example of decent ideas, maybe your mission is to financial support animal shelters in your town. Maybe it’s to clothe homeless people in your city. Maybe it’s to provide a free summer camp for underprivileged children.
Recruit some people who might be on board and then test the idea in the community. Talk to people or start serving and evaluate the response. Then continue to improve your service and build your team.
If this is your life’s passion, stick with it or take what you learned to found a new non-profit.
And if you do go to college, your resume will be truly rocking doing this—especially if it makes a tangible difference in the community.
For inspiration, here’s an example of an 18-year-old who started a crazy successful non-profit.
14. Write a book
I truly believe every single person on this Earth has a unique story and some important message to share with the world. Sue me for seeing the positives in humanity.
And that means you’re fully capable of writing a book before you turn 20.
What are you passionate about? What do you excel in?
And most importantly, what’s something you know a lot about and it’s popular enough for other people to care? That’s the special ingredient to writing a quality book.
I get it if you want to wait to write your book until you have something more powerful to say or a little more experience under your belt.
But just know there are some young teenagers writing books for people their age and making a killing, specifically 14-year-old Caleb Maddix comes to mind.
15. Coach a team
Are you a former football, tennis, soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, or golf player? Have you ever been decent at a sport?
That’s about all the qualifications you need to coach a middle school, junior high, or high school team.
For example, some of my friends have gone on to coach club volleyball teams, high school football teams, 8th grade basketball teams, and everything in between.
High schools will automatically pay you in most cases.
And since many parents want no part of coaching, you can offer the local school or parish to coach the middle school team as long as you’re paid a reasonable fee for your time. You just might have to get more creative to get paid when you coach younger ages.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, you’re going to have a lot of fun coaching. It’s a way to stay close to the game you love after your time to play has ended.
Plus you get the rewarding feeling of passing down the knowledge you’ve learned and making your former coaches proud.
College Isn’t For Everyone
You have to admit after reading this that college isn’t for everyone.
I mean why would a guy or girl who wants to be a realtor, for example, spend at least four years and at least $50,000 a year at college to delay doing what they love?
It doesn’t make sense and college would only disappoint them with a mountain of debt.
Now the table tilts differently in two situations: your parents are paying for your entire education or you’re 100% certain you need to college to get your dream job (investment banker, lawyer, doctor, professor, etc.).
It’s the debt that really pisses me off so if your parents are well off and can easily take the bill then that’s a different story.
But still, thinking this decision through will get you in the habit of questioning the norm and making the best decision for you, not doing things because other people are doing it.
That will help you win down the road in life.
Always aim to live with intention—especially if you’re deciding about a four to six year college contract.
So is college right for you? Only you can answer that.
And before you decide… promise me you will consider all of the options before you blindly go to college.
P.S. If you want help exploring your future options and becoming the best version of yourself, go here.
Skipping Class Hurts Far More Than It Helps
The excuses for skipping class vary from ludicrous to reasonable.
If you’re feeling super lazy and the last thing you want to do is go to class—hey, it happens—your excuses will lack common sense. You’ll skip because it might rain, you miss your dog, you’re not feeling pretty, or some other laughable idea.
There are also what I call the legitimate, or reasonable excuses.
You want to sleep in longer (or take a nap) instead of going to class because you have to study late at night.
You can read the PowerPoint slides online and get the same information you need without going to class.
The professor doesn’t check for attendance so there’s no consequences if you don’t show up.
You haven’t worked out in weeks so you have to go to the gym instead of class. It’s a fair trade.
You can make a case for these kinds of excuses and others in the ballpark of reason. It’s easy to miss class when you justify it. (It’s easy to do anything when it’s justified.)
But, I think anyone who skips class is misguided.
Because whether you have a legitimate reason or you’re lazy, I’m going to hit you with the truth: skipping class hurts you more than it helps you. Here’s exactly why.
Skipping Class Makes Things Worse
These are the fun problems that come from skipping college classes, in no particular order.
First, rarely is all the information you need for an assignment provided without additional information from a professor. Whether it’s a project, paper, or exam, during class is when a professor often takes time to give context, helpful instruction, and dictate what they’re looking for. If you’re not there, that’s no extra help for you.
Plus, you don’t get any freebie test answers if you’re not at class. You know what I mean, right?
When the professor expands on a topic, then says, “Take notes because this will be on the exam.” Only the people who attend class come away with that helpful insight. (Or when they deliberately tell you a specific question and answer on the exam, only the students there are lucky.)
You also miss when your teacher says, “Don’t worry about this unit, it won’t be on the exam.” If you miss that day, you’ll but putting hours of valuable study time into terms that you don’t need to know.
Many students who often miss class, sometimes only one class, are sure to waste more time trying to catch up than if they went to class. Because not only do they have to learn what they went over in class, they first have to spend time knowing what to go over.
And it’s extremely difficult to get a quality letter of recommendation if you routinely skip class with all of your professors. At best, your letters will be average and bland. At worst, you won’t have any professors agree to write one.
For all of these reasons, and some others I’m sure I left out, if you like yourself, you will go to every class you can.
So while there’s plenty of reasons to skip class and the motivation behind each one is that it will make your life easier, if only for a little, now you know that premise is untrue.
Skipping class makes your life much more difficult and stressful. In other words, going to class makes your life much easier.
You’ll Win When You Go To Class
Did you catch all of that? Although going to class can be a drag at times, just remember the consequences of not going to class are always a losing bargain.
I must say that this entire blog post is assuming you want to succeed in college and not live in constant stress. If you don’t want to do well for yourself and want to skip class, enjoy the stress and good luck to you. (You need it!)
And here’s one last negative. Skipping class when you don’t feel like going sets a bad precedent for your future. Because after you graduate, not going to work on the days you don’t feel like it also sounds good, until you lose your job, lose your income, and become a bum.
College is the perfect time to establish successful habits. Start today by creating the habit of going to every class, regardless of your feelings.
Your college experience will be better off for it.
Podcast Interviews For The How To College Launch
To promote How To College, I went on podcasts to discuss all the great content in the book.
The hosts and I discussed important subjects like building a personal brand, best practices for mental health, goal-setting strategies, and a bunch of other cool success topics.
The interviews all went well and I appreciated the hosts having me on. Free press is always for me (I’m talking to you Forbes and Business Insider, just waiting by the phone).
I figured instead of reading content, you could listen to a podcast and learn something new:
I’ve been on some other podcasts that still haven’t posted (what are you waiting for people?). It’s all good though.
Just Google search “Brian Robben podcast” if you want to listen to the other podcasts when they go live in the near future, or listen to the podcasts I’ve been on for The Golden Resume and Freedom Mindset launches.
Go crush it today!