College isn’t the only post-high school option

College isnt the only post-high school option

Tristan Cole, Editorial Team

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Ask any 5-year-old child that question and the answer you receive most likely will not be the same as the one he or she will give at age 10 or 15. Or even at age 25.

So why does our society still push so hard for the idea of K-12 education followed by four years of college? While so many students will follow this path, it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Let’s face it. College is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to go to college, not everyone can afford it and not everyone is a strong enough student to succeed in such a setting. Some people are more suited to work with their hands and that is just fine. Or they want to go into the military, which is also an honorable choice, of course.

Today, approximately 20 to 50 percent of students go into college undecided, and these numbers are only growing. In addition, fewer than 60 percent can graduate within six years of entering the undergraduate system. The old cookie-cutter idea of four years for an undergraduate degree followed by a successful career being the only path to happiness just is not right for plenty of teens.

And let’s not forget the cost. Whether college students graduate or don’t, a huge majority of them carry home a crushing amount of student debt. For those students, a supposed path to a salary became a black hole of interest rates and monthly chunks out of their paycheck.
And while there is a definite push towards more technical college and certification programs, the truth is that students who are not planning to include some sort of degree or certification are still not considered by most in our society to be “successful.” And not just college – college right out of high school, finished in four years. Those students are the ones who gain the lion’s share of the glory and praise in our society. Why should there be a problem with taking a year to travel, or to earn money so that college does not lead to crippling debt? Or taking five or six (or more) years to get that undergraduate degree?

If you want to go to college, and can afford to go to college, then by all means, go. If you can’t (or don’t want to) then that is acceptable, too. Make a plan that helps you decide what you want to do in life and go for it. If that means never setting foot in a classroom after high school, that should not be a black mark against you. Different choices in life are right for different people. Be brave enough to pick what is right for you.