The decision of whether or not to go to college has been greatly warped in today’s society. For a variety of reasons, many people believe that the ONLY path to success or happiness starts with a college degree.
… maybe going to college is “always the way it’s been” in a given family.
… perhaps the elders of another family worked very hard to save up enough money to send their children to college and expect them to follow the path they’ve paved.
… maybe they grew up with people who shunned those without a college degree.
No matter what the reason is, the expectations are there. These expectations preclude a very important question: should I go to college?
For some people, the answer to this question is “certainly yes!” Those who have a detailed life plan that aligns with their personal identity will benefit greatly from the knowledge provided by a college education (assuming that their chosen career requires that level of certification). Others, having carried out careful research and consideration, may be poised to enter a specific industry. Universities can be great places to foster connections within specific industries, and can be a launchpad into a dream job.
However, you have to keep in mind WHO these potential college students are. They’ve put in the work and found a specific career path or industry that aligns with their identity. They have a solid idea of what they want from their lives and are directly pursuing it. College is not the end-all be-all for them; it’s simply the tool they’re using to pursue what they want.
Personally, I was NOT at this point in high school. And I’d be willing to bet that most other high school students aren’t, either. I wasn’t some guru whiz kid who had my ten-year plan laid out by sophomore year. I didn’t even know what I wanted to do by the end of my senior year. The public education system gave me a baseline knowledge of what was out there, but I had no idea of how to apply it to my life.
Without specific prompting, most high school students just follow what they’re told. And when they’re told that they should go directly to college after high school, they figure “why not?”
That “why not” SHOULD NOT BE A RHETORICAL QUESTION! There are SO many reasons “why not” to go to college on a whim. Two come to mind for me easily - crushing student debt and increasing drop-out rates.
But this doesn’t mean you should just sit there and be helpless. Deciding to not go to college immediately is a great first step, but it’s just that - a first step. You still need that life plan I mentioned earlier. You still need that blueprint to take your existence in the direction you want it to go.
If you’re someone who’s looking for the next step, don’t stop. Building the life you want isn’t easy, but it’s always rewarding at the end. Be relentless in finding how to define your identity. Invest in your future intelligently with both your time and your money, because you never know when you’re going to run out of either.