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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.