THE BLOG
12/13/2013 11:16 pm ET Updated Feb 12, 2014

5 Reasons to Skip College and Save Money

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It's no secret that in the United States of America, children are pushed to go to college. Why? Because it's a widely accepted practice that once your graduate from high school, you attend college. There are two problems with this: You may not want to go to college, or you may not even know what you want to study.

Here's an example.

My niece graduated from high school in 2011, enrolled at a university in Ohio, and dropped out six months later. Why? Because she wasn't ready to go to college right after high school. But she'd been pressured by her paternal grandparents to go to college. Sadly, she spent $14,000 that she can't get back from the university.

Fast-forward to September 2013 and my niece moved into an apartment at her chosen university and enrolled in classes. I was happy for her, but I had a nagging feeling that she would move back in with her grandma, my mom. Sure enough, she's moving back in with my mom and will commute to the university.

I love my niece, but I see red major red flags around her situation. The first red flag is that she keeps moving back and forth from school to home. The second red flag is that she isn't speaking with people about her major: medicine. Let's face it: If you want to study (fill in the blank), the smartest thing you can do is shadow a professional to see if you want to pursue a career in that field. You could also find a job within your chosen major. The third red flag is that she keeps accumulating debt but hasn't made an attempt to pay it down, even though she's working more than 40 hours per week. The final red flag is that she may not know what she wants to study, even if she thinks she knows.

There's nothing wrong with this. Who knows what they want to do with their life at 18, 19 or 20? This is why it's a good idea to take a gap year (popular in Europe and the UK), where you take one or two years off before you go to college. You can travel, network and meet new people. You could also find a job, work and save money!

Here are five reasons that you might want to skip college and save money.

You don't know what you want to study.

Why spend the money on college if you have no idea what you want to study? Sure, you could take what I affectionately call the B.S. classes -- the ones that have nothing to do with your major -- but why gamble with your future? You can always take classes at a community college. And if the credits transfer to a four-year college or university, you'll save even more money should you decide to go to college.

You don't want to go to college right now.

If you're honest with yourself, you'll admit that you don't want to go to college right now. There's nothing wrong with this. If anyone (e.g., parents or grandparents) gives you any grief about it, remind them that it's your future, not theirs. After all, it's highly unlikely that they're going to support you for the rest of your life. You might as well get a job and save money. This way you can figure out what you want to do with your life.

You're just not into formal educational.

Right now you may not get anything out of sitting in a classroom or taking classes online. There's nothing wrong with the fact that college may not be the right fit for you. Instead of taking on an enormous amount of debt at a young age, just work instead. Besides, working on the job will give you the opportunity to build skills and meet people. Who knows? You could work your way up and own the company you work for. Your "real-world" experience will come in handy.

You could build an investment portfolio.

If you don't have an investment portfolio, it's time to start one. There are plenty of financial advisors who can help you choose the right stocks and other investments. Or you may want to try real estate investing, such as fixing and flipping a house or owning income property. However, you need a certain level of understanding of the real estate business. You could always partner with a seasoned real estate investor and learn how the industry and business works. You may discover that you have a natural talent for real estate.

You could discover your life's purpose and passion.

Believe it or not, forgoing college could lead you to your life's purpose and passion, and this could lead to you owning your own business. Most people struggle to find their life's purpose, but you can find it by working and volunteering. Who knows? You could become a successful businessperson by the time you turn 25 or 30. You could be the change you want to see in the world and make it a brighter place than it already is.

Going to college or university is a privilege that many would like to have. But Just because you can afford a college education or get student loans, grants or scholarships doesn't mean you should go to college if you're not 100-percent ready or certain of what you want to study. Why waste the time and money?

If you want to avoid a mountain of college debt, skip college and save money.

Saving money is possible, and it's closer than you might have believed.