Photo Courtesty: Kristina Wagner |

Just not "college material."

College isn't for everyone. A wise investment for many is not a viable option for some. It's time we value and encourage alternative methods of education.

On Jan. 27, 2019, Samuel Dahmen leads his clients into his personal gym, Coopers Sports Performance in Dublin, Calif. Nine years of lifting experience and four certifications in Personal Training and Sports Nutrition take place of a typical college degree for this successful 23-year-old. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Before Dahmen begins working with his clients, he discusses their goals, experience, and previous or existing injuries. He then develops a warm-up routine and training program for his clients based off of their desired outcomes. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Tommy Sidebottom, left, and Emily Campbell, right, are two of Dahmen’s clients. He has them begin with several warm-up stretches and a few rounds of sprints in the indoor track. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Both Sidebottom and Campbell have been working with Dahmen for several months. One of the biggest struggles Dahmen has had to deal with in his line of work revolves around finding new clientele, and keeping them for long periods of time. Dahmen is pictured setting up wooden boxes for a plyometric exercise that trains muscles to increase power. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Sidebottom and Campbell begin a leg exercise with three sets of jump training. “I enjoy full body workouts,” said Sidebottom, a 23-year-old Cal Poly architectural engineering graduate. “I love to mountain climb, so the self-discipline and perseverance I practice while training can be used to push myself further when I climb.” Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Campbell moves on to an upper-body strength exercise. Her journey with weight lifting began because her friends peer-pressured her into attending the gym with them. Three years later and she has decided to pursue the path of personal training herself. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Peer-pressure is still alive and well. Campbell is 19-years-old and studies Kinesiology at Diablo Valley Canyon Community College in San Ramon, Calif. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Campbell attempts the intimidating battle ropes exercise, which has become a popular fitness tool in the recent years. “There’s nothing better than feeling accomplished after reaching a new personal record, or finishing a great work out,” said Campbell. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Knowing when to push a client and when to lay back usually comes down to understanding body language,” said Dahmen. “If you have a feeling that they really need a breather, it is best to give them that time and space.” Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Campbell intends to get her college degree, but Dahmen has proven his success as a self-sufficient personal trainer living in Pleasanton, Calif. Although he agrees that a college education would be beneficial, he does not consider it necessary. “Continuing education through specific certifications rather than a degree is just more valued in this industry,” said Dahmen. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Dahmen spots his clients and keeps an eye out for good form. Sessions like this typically last around 45 minutes. Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer Post-workout, Dahmen feels no shame in showing off the results, just like he feels no shame in his decision to pursue a career without a college degree. “Helping someone change how they look, feel, and think about themselves...That’s the best reward.” Photo Credit: Taylor Keefer

Listen to the unique stories of leaders who decided to wander off the beaten path.

-Tony Quintero, 24: He dropped out of Cal Poly to start up his own taco truck business, Taqueria805

-Lindsey Davis, 24: She is the owner and artist of Art of Noelle, where she creates string art, handmade wooden signs, and hand painted globes.

-Kendyl Collinsworth, 23: She started out majoring in Nutrition at Cuesta College, but is now pursuing a health coach career by taking a certification course online.

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