From the time most kids enter kindergarten to the time they graduate from high school, a steady message is tattooed into them: "Go to college." By the time a teenager is a senior in high school, they have been asked which university they want to attend so many times that they have a response practiced, memorized, and at the ready. It is the dream of so many parents to see their children grown up and graduated from the family alma mater.

But why?

Of course, college and university studies can be worthwhile goals. The pursuit of a degree is a demanding and frequently rewarding endeavor. However, why do we as a society focus almost solely on this course of action as the only acceptable route to success? Let's take a look at three very different paths which may, for some people, result in a happier, more financially stable future than even a college diploma can guarantee.

Share Your Passion!

Many people prefer an adventurous, active, and exploratory future to the idea of sitting behind a desk all day. For these free spirits, there are a plethora of alternative careers that should be explored. Rookie ski instructors make up to $15.00 per hour in the US, and those who would be willing to travel abroad have the potential to earn even more (such as $28.00 per hour in France). There are similar opportunities available for those who love to river raft, jet ski, rock climb, hike, mountain bike, go spelunking, canoe, and participate in all sorts of other fun outdoor activities.

Be a Manager!

While there are some managerial positions which require a college degree, this is not always the case. Many retail, restaurant, and fast-food businesses greatly value the loyalty and hard work of their employees. In these positions, it is often easy and effective to start at the bottom and work one's way up to the top. This may take time and patience but can be well worth the wait. For example, the manager of a single McDonald's fast-food restaurant can make up to $75,000 per year. Aside from the monetary gain from being a manager, there's the added benefit of developing interpersonal skills and relationships, as well as learning how to be a powerful and effective leader.

Go to Trade School!

Many of the highest-earning careers in America involve skills which are taught at trade schools. For example, facility maintenance directors can make over $100,000 annually! It's not just the directors who make good money, either. Ordinary facility maintenance workers can earn up to $58,000 per year. Clearly, the facilities maintenance training provided in trade schools can pay off. It's also worth noting that these programs cost a fraction of what a typical college or university would. The programs are normally much shorter as well, usually only lasting two years or so. Trade schools offer training for all sorts of programs such as construction, plumbing, and electricity.

Success in careers and in life is not measured by a diploma. There are many options to consider when one is planning for the future. Think outside the box! Dream outside the box! Be outside the box!