Don’t Go To College

My senior year of high school, I was burned out, I was exhausted, I’d busted my butt in extracurriculars, carried an active social life and maintain pretty good marks for 13 years. I was ready for a break; college didn’t look all that appetizing.

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But my parents, my friends, and my teachers told me to just go to college. Go and experience. Go and learn. Go and be free. So I did.

At the time there weren’t other options, or at least none that I knew about. I could go to college or I could live with my parents and work in town.

All the great wise men told me that college would get me a career, it was the only thing that would.

So I went. And I experienced. And I think I learned, though probably not what was on the syllabus.

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College was…not fun for me, it wasn’t a grand opening of my mind or an essential activity to my youth. It was certainly not the best four years of my life. Of course now I understand why.

While I was certain at the time that something was wrong with me, it was actually that me and college just didn’t fit. The timing was bad. I didn’t know what I wanted or where I was going. I went in scared and tired, rather than excited and eager.

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The fact of the matter is that college is expensive and long. And yes, you do need an education in this modern world of ours for most careers. However, jumping in before you’re ready, does you no favors.

I’m not advocating for graduates to sit at home and hate on college.  What I’m saying is that there are other options. My personal favorite is AmeriCorps.

I did an AmeriCorps program after college where I spent the year working in an elementary school. It allowed my to experience day to day life in a field I was considering. It allowed me hands on experience that I was paid for.

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AmeriCorps programs aren’t limited to education. There are programs in almost every field that will allow real world, field experience. They also offered classes in civic involvement, CPR/First Aid, First Responder, Emergency Services, and a ton of guidance on job searching, resumes, and interviews. AmeriCorps is a structured way to get ready for college and life after college.

There are also volunteer opportunities, internships, and other side gigs that can be done while working. And let’s not forget the value of just working full time and learning punctuality and work ethic outside of the classroom.

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I know that much of my audience is not in high school, however we are the adults who are or will be influencing a new generation coming of age every day.

I urge you not to cast them into the university volcano without a second thought. Tell them to do something important, something where they can learn and get to know what they want, tell them to be something, but don’t just tell them to go to college.

Best of luck.

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7 thoughts on “Don’t Go To College

  1. I hated college when I first started. I wasn’t a good student in high school (I dropped out twice), so I did/do the community college thing. I never took my SATs, an oversight I’m still unsure as to the “how did this happen” of. I took classes here and there–dropped most of them because of stress and anxiety, failed an entire semester due to depression, the fun stuff ya know?–and here I am almost a decade later with little to show for it other than some really random course credits.

    I’m a late bloomer, they say.
    I’m anxious, neurotic, and a perfectionist, and being told to pick something to do for the rest of my life at age 18 was terrifying and overwhelming, I say.

    It’s absurd to push kids into these decisions. Especially when we as a society don’t even take them seriously as adults until they’re at least 25. I mean, really? “You’re a dumb teenager, but go ahead and pick a thing to do FOREVER.” And that’s really what we’re telling them, because no one ever explained to me, “Hey, if you pick this thing and you decide you don’t like it, you can go back and pick a new thing! People switch careers! It’s okay!”

    No, I got my dad telling me, “You’re sure about this? You’re REALLY SURE about this? Because I don’t want to waste money sending you to this school just to have you decide in ten years you want to do something else.” And I think a lot of kids hear similar things from their parents.
    [Ironically, in my community college misadventures, I think I’ve cumulatively spent at least as much money on various classes and books for those classes than my dad would have forked out for me to go through the cosmetology program he scared me away from, and I still don’t have any kind of degree or certification to show for it. Oops!]

    Liked by 1 person

    • I absolutely agree. Asking teenagers to pick a career for the rest of their lives is bonkers. When I was 16 I wanted to be a professional saxophonist. Yeah.
      The good news is that people are finally realizing that it’s not about choosing one career and getting degrees, it’s about finding what you’re good at, what you like and then figuring out the steps to do it. Great points thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. College, just like many other things in life, isn’t for everyone. I have several cousins and a sibling who are all older than me, but I was the first of my generation to graduate from university. I loved it there, but that experience isn’t universal. You’ve got to do what’s right for you and do it only when you’re committed and ready.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is such a great suggestion, thank you! I needed this. I just graduated from education and I’m currently a substitute teacher… and I really, really don’t want the full-time job anytime soon. I wish I’d had the classroom experience of my last two years earlier on so that I could have known that. I’m definitely going to look into AmeriCorps!

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome! Definitely check out AmeriCorps, there are some awesome programs. A friend I served with started out wanting to be an instructional assistant and ended up a kindergarten teacher. Sometimes just doing the job or another job for a while shows you everything you need. Also, substitutes unite! Thanks for reading.

      Like

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