Ever since I was a toddler I knew I would go to go to college. My dad, who raised me on his own, made sure I understood how important my education was. He rewarded good grades, spent time helping me with homework, and helped to promote my creativity as I grew older. Once we realized that I loved reading, had a skill for telling stories, and became passionate about writing, he worked hard to help me refine this skill and discover how to turn my passion into a career. I decided journalism was the route I wanted to take, and he was there every step of the way encouraging me to further my education and pursue writing as my career.
My education has helped me obtain every writing-based job I’ve had, but that’s not necessarily the case for everyone. Parents in the same generation as my dad grew up in an era much different from ours. A college education was a far more uncommon achievement, the cost of a college degree was much less than it is now, and the economy wasn’t in the same position. Today a college education is still available to those who need it, but there are many other options available as well. Before feeling like college is your only option, it’s important to decide what type of life is best for you and whether you need a college education in order to achieve it.
Finding Your Passion
The most important aspect in moving forward in your career is finding your passion. Your job is going to take up so much of your life and hopefully end up being your bread and butter. When you spend so much time doing something, you need to enjoy doing it in order to do it for so long and continue to do it well. Your passion is more important than the money you make or the opinions of others. If your passion doesn’t require a college education, then you shouldn’t feel pressured to attend college. Whatever your passion is, dive into it head first and don’t let anyone stand in your way.
Doing What You Want To Do, Not What You Have To Do
There are no rules when it comes to how you design your life. So many people graduate high school, graduate college, get a job, get married, have kids, etc. but this is not the only option for you. You are free to break out of the mold and design your life how you please. You are free to graduate high school and travel, join a volunteer organization, backpack across Europe, hike across the U.S., start a band, create art, take a year off, or try your hand in acting. Any of these options can be done to replace college or as a break before college. If you can do these things independently without affecting anyone else negatively, then you are free to do it. When you are young, you have the luxury of designing your life as you please.
Knowing Your Options
Finding your passion is also about understanding the options available to you. Explore the options in trade schools, apprenticeships, or two-year degrees. Many of these options can offer you the same opportunities as a four-year degree. Many medical assistants pay a fraction of the cost of a four-year program while still entering a field that pays well and is in need of people. Tattoo artists, paralegals, dental assistants, welders, and veterinary assistants are all other options that don’t require a four-year degree program.
Student Debt Crisis
Americans owe nearly $1.3 trillion in student loan debt and the average class of 2015 graduate had over $35,000 in student loans. The cost of education is higher than ever and students are having a hard time paying back their students loans. With the average student having so much debt, making the decision to attend a four-year university should be a decision made with all the information first. Figure out any scholarship opportunities, grants you qualify for, and how much your average salary will be once obtaining an entry-level job before deciding to attend. Of course, money is no object if you need this degree to fulfill your career passion, just make sure you need this degree in order to get the career you want.
Feeling the Pressure
Life is all about pressure, we feel pressured to look a certain way, do certain things, be friends with certain people, buy certain products, know certain things, and act a certain way. These pressures are put on us by society, our family, our peers, or ourselves. However, it’s important to not let these pressures change all the things you want in life. Discuss these pressures with your loved ones and explain how these pressures are making you feel, they will either give you advice on avoiding the pressure, or be more understanding about the pressures they are putting on you. When all you want is for your loved ones to be proud of you, abstaining from the pressure to go to college can be easier said than done, but ultimately you know what’s best for you.
I am the first one in my family to graduate college and I am so proud of the work it took to graduate with my degree. However, I know that college wasn’t the only way to achieve my dreams and follow my passion. If I had decided not to attend college I know it would have been hard to explain my decision to my dad and to my other loved ones, but ultimately my career choices are up to me. Each of us are free to decide what we are passionate about, break out of the mold, decide on another option, stay out of debt, and not succumb to pressure. You’re also free to attend college if you choose; your future is up to you.