Ever since the first day of elementary school, everyone has been working towards a seemingly universal goal: college.
Everyone knows universities can consistently put graduates on track to a happier life, but this is not necessarily true.
College has been painted as a one-way street to success — if you go to college, suddenly, you’re guaranteed a high-paying job. Unfortunately, success doesn’t always come that easy, and for some, college may not be the right stepping stone to prosperity at all.
When it comes to success, there is no one-size-fits-all. College is expensive, and many end up dropping out soon after they first start, left with thousands of dollars in debt with nothing to justify it. People have been taught to pay more than they can afford for an education that may or may not benefit them, depending on their individual career goals. After they’ve received their degree — or dropped out before they could — they’re still drowning in student loans.
It is true that college graduates have, in general, higher paying jobs and a lower unemployment rate than high school graduates (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics), but college is not a one-stop shop for any life or career goal someone wants accomplished. Attending a university and obtaining an advanced degree can be a great benefit to some career paths and people, but college doesn’t work for everyone.
Going to college does not guarantee success, and not going to college does not guarantee failure. College may benefit those searching for a career in medicine or another field that requires a higher degree, but if college isn’t right for someone, they have other options.
Every job in the world does not require a college degree, including multiple fast-growing jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health aides, physical therapist assistants, construction workers and diagnostic medical sonographers — all of which don’t require a bachelor’s degree — are a handful of the jobs projected to grow fastest in the next decade in the US. In fact, only seven of the 30 jobs projected to grow fastest require college degrees.
Career training is available, as well, in certain fields, like construction, through in-depth training and apprenticeships. Vocational education can teach students to become anything from hair stylists to firefighters.
Another alternative would be to join the military, a decision many students across the country make each year. While serving their country, the student can pull together funds to potentially attend college in the future — a prospect much more financially plausible given the options available to veterans — or the military can become their career itself.
If undecided on whether to go to a university, one could always consider taking a gap year, deferring admission for a year to think about what one wants to do.
Working to earn money to pay for tuition and performing service abroad or domestically are both valid options for spending your gap year in addition to deciding on college. International service and experience can also be incredibly beneficial to procuring future jobs.
The decision of whether or not to attend college is not one to be taken lightly. College can offer an incredible amount of benefits and knowledge one may not be able to find elsewhere. Not attending college does not guarantee demise, and options are available for a successful career.
In the end, attending college is not necessary for everyone. The environment may be perfect for some, but the right path for many others goes in a different direction.