It’s May, and for all you high school seniors, graduation is only weeks away. This is both an exciting and nerve wracking time.

Everyone has been asking you where you plan to go to school and what you’re majoring in. I can’t tell you how many times I got asked that my senior year, and once spring rolls around how much it intensifies by 1088248308%.

Maybe you are still unsure and undecided. And that is totally okay! There is nothing wrong with that! (Check out my article about following your passion here). Maybe you are thinking that traditional, brick and mortar college isn’t for you, you want to ease into it, you want to work or travel or don’t have the funds to go right off the bat to a 4 year university. That is totally okay!

Today I am sharing two alternative college options if you are thinking any of the just mentioned things!

My College Story

I went straight into college from graduating high school. I graduated high school in May of 2013, coming up on four years (seriously, how is it four years already!?), and started my freshman year of college in August of 2013. I will be finishing up college fall of 2017 and will have spent approximately $21,000 for a Bachelor’s Degree in Hospitality Management from an accredited university.

So how did I spend that little of money for a full, real degree? I’m glad you asked.

This is a 2 part answer.

1. Community College

The 1st is that I went to community college. And I have no shame in saying that I did. I know most people think community college is for drop outs, slackers, stoners, and old people, but I am here to tell you that’s not true. Sure there are those individuals who attend but most are normal, high school students who couldn’t attend a traditional university because of money (most common) or time/flexibility.

Community college is waaaaaaaay cheaper than a traditional college or university, and provides the basic general education that the university does.

I got all of my general education courses, 64 credits in two years, for under roughly $6,000. And luckily all of them transferred to my second university too.

If you work a job or want to ease into school community college is a solid choice. You can take one class or find ones that work with your job rather than fully commit to 12 credit hours and classes all day.

This is also a great option for students who aren’t quite sure what they want to study. You can take general courses like English, literature, math, science, history and electives while you figure it out. This saves you money, lots of it, and time instead of you taking classes that you aren’t sure of.

2. Online Courses

The 2nd part of the answer is that I did all of my college online. Yup, I did all 4 years of college and got my Bachelor’s degree all from the comforts of home, in my PJs on my laptop. When I was going to community college, I took all my classes online, and my second university, American Public University, is all online based as well.

I chose this for a variety of reasons but the biggest being flexibility and scheduling. I knew that I wanted to travel (hello Hawaii and Fiji) and a brick and mortar school wouldn’t allow me to do that. With online courses, I could take it with me wherever I went and could work on it remotely.

I also love that it is way less intensive than traditional college. Granted not all online universities are like this, but so far mine have been awesome! I have great professors and my experience has been the best. I would 100% recommend it to anyone.

Going with that I chose online because it was the only option for me. I wanted to go into the Hospitality industry, specifically event planning and none of the 4 year colleges around me ( in Kansas) offered a Bachelor of Arts in Hospitality Management.

I knew I wanted to go to a 4 year school, so I was determined to find one. I mean there had to be one out there. I finally found it at American Public University, which is a fully accredited university.

I finished the rest of my degree, 57 credits, with my degree-specific courses in 2.25 years for just under $15,000. APU was one of the few 4 year colleges that offered a hospitality program focusing on event planning as a Bachelor of Arts degree that was reasonable with their tuition costs.

I paid $810 for 3 credit hours while there whereas at one of the big universities back home in Kansas it is almost $800 a credit hour…. $800 for 1 CREDIT HOUR. You could take only 1 class there whereas I took 4 for the same price…. How bout them dollars?

APU offers a wide range of Associate, Bachelor and Master’s degrees and various certificates in odd or different majors that some universities don’t offer, which is great that there is a college out there that offers them!

So if you don’t want to do the traditional college route, and want an alternate option or 2, I hope these help! Now there are pros and cons of both, be looking for an article about them soon, but for the most part I am so happy that I decided to go these 2 routes!


Samantha is one of the Co-Founders for Tribe Twenty One. She’s currently a senior in college finishing up her Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management and plans to become an event planner. When she’s not studying or working on Tribe 21, she’s working as an administrative assistant to a top San Diego wedding venue and managing her personal blog called Of Life and Style.

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