By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 21, 2013 at 9:04 AM

When Jennifer Wright’s son, Matthew, told her he wasn’t going to college, her first reaction was anger.

"He wasn’t the greatest student, but his grades were good enough to go to college, or at least technical college for a couple of years, and I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to go," says Wright.

Wright says she secretly hoped he would get a low-paying, unfulfilling job and eventually decide on his own to go to college. But that isn’t what happened.

Instead, Matthew started freelance designing logos in Los Angeles and has made enough money to support himself and his two dogs for five years.

"Matthew has taught me a lot over the years," says Wright. "Including that there are a lot of paths to success."

Once upon a different world, going to college was equivalent to getting a good job. But these days, with exorbitant tuition costs and a glut of college grads, having a degree doesn’t come with the guarantee it once did.

But a lot of parents would still be leery – even worried or angry – if their child decided against college after high school.

Patrick Bet-David is the CEO of a marketing company called People Helping People as well as a writer, thinker and speaker who has become an expert in the niche of post-high school opportunities for young Americans. He recently published a book on the subject called "Doing The Impossible."

"College is not for everyone. In today’s society, college is the status quo. However, we have seen the incredible contribution that different individuals without a degree have made to the world such as Steve Jobs or Richard Branson," says Bet-David.

A few years ago, Bet-David observed two high school graduates who had no desire to attend college become multi-millionaires by starting a car detailing business for Hollywood stars.

Bet-Davis believes there are numerous viable options for employment in this country that do not include college, including the military, starting a business and mastering a trade.

Networking, in some cases, can be more valuable than academics.

"No matter which route you choose after high school, don’t forget about face-to-face relationships," he says. "Attend in-person networking events, invite the CEO of a company for a cup of coffee and just get to know as many different people in as many different fields as possible. You never know who might be able to help you or who you’ll be able to help."

Bet-David says most importantly, people need to remember that college is an option, not a requirement for success and personal satisfaction. The cost of an education should also be taken into account when deciding whether or not a person is going to attend college.

"Many can’t afford the college option and shouldn’t be saddled with anywhere between $25,000 and $100,000 of debt to start their adult lives," says Bet-Davis. "At the same time, this new digital world is opening up doors for bright, hard-working, self-learners who aren’t afraid to make their own path."

For Wright, it just took time to accept her son wasn’t going to college and to realize he was inspired and motivated by working outside the classroom.

"It was tough. I hated telling people that my son wasn’t in college. But it’s not about me. It’s about Matthew’s happiness," says Wright.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.