Wednesday, January 6, 2016

College may not be for you-and that is OK!

Hello, everyone! I've been a bit absent from the blog lately in the whirlwind of trying to get back on track with housework and writing projects. But, I have some fun posts floating in my head (or in my drafts folder) that I will eventually get to! Today is a topic very near and dear to my heart: college. I attended an awesome college, where I learned awesome things and grew academically, really soared in my faith life, developed incredible friendships, and, I have to mention-I met and married my wonderful husband. 

Yet, as much as I love college, I think it's important that we critically examine how we portray college to others, especially to high school upperclassmen. I'm only 22; high school was not that long ago, and I can very clearly remember the push and drive that many students, parents, and teachers had for college. There was this unspoken vibe that if you didn't have a college picked out by graduation, you were slacking off. Furthermore, if you didn't want to work in the fast food industry for the rest of your life, college was the answer to your future. However, there are some big problems with the belief that College is for Everyone.

Students are under so much pressure to figure out where they want to attend college, what they want to do with their lives, study for standardized tests (like the ACT and SAT), ace all of their high school classes to bump up their GPAs, score well on the standardized tests, sift through college mailings and applications-oh, and enjoy their final days as a high school student. While this whole process can be important for a student who greatly desires and would strongly benefit from a college education (though I encourage you to not overdo it!), what about those students who aren't sold on college, but are put through this anyway? Unnecessary pressure and stress? I think so! 

And let's talk about parents for a moment. I know of so many parents who feel some sort of obligation to provide a college education for their children, even if it's not financially possible. There are also parents who automatically think that college is the best possible shot at success for their children. Others never had the chance to attend college, so they want to give their kids what they could never have. All of these scenarios are noble and make sense to me. I'm sure that when Baby is a teenager, it would be easy to have these same sentiments. And if you want to support your kids in college, all power to you! I'm sure they will appreciate it bunches. But, I think that if we stop professing the idea that College is for Everyone, it may take some of the extreme stress off of some parents. 

OK, stress, pressure...I got that. But why else, you ask, shouldn't we say that  College is for Everyone? 

Each person has different interests and different educational needs. People have different goals and career paths. And, to be honest, college is not the answer to every kind of educational need, career path, or goal. Some people really need a college education and degree for their field of choice, like doctors, nurses, teachers, and historians. However, if we say that College is for Everyone, we're forgetting about all of the awesome, honorable professions that don't require a college degree-electricians, dental hygienists, court reporters, mechanics, hair stylists, mechanics, subway operators, electrical-power line repairers, commercial pilots...the list goes on and on. Many of these jobs require training that is much shorter than a 4-year undergraduate program, and people come out of their training with good salaries and little debt. A few weeks ago, Francis Tuttle Technology Center mailed us their course catalog (I have no clue why!), and you would be amazed to see the wide range of classes offered for different career paths! Restaurant management, tourism, courses on wind turbines...there was a lot, and it was really interesting to page through the booklet. I'm sure that there are many high school students out there who would love to look into nontraditional post-high school options if they knew about them; are we fairly presenting the information to them if we profess that College is for Everyone? 

At my high school, there were two great programs for seniors: Teacher's Academy and Health Academy. I had friends who participated in these programs, and I heard about the beneficial exposure to the teaching and medical fields that these programs gave to students. I think it's good for high schools to offer these types of programs, but could they take it a step further? What about programs that show students the wide range of more "nontraditional" opportunities out there? Let's kindle the minds and hearts of today's youth by helping them see the many awesome paths there are to take after high school-in college and not in college! 


  1. Absolutely love this post and agree with your message! College was a good choice for me, and in spite of challenges (I didn't adjust to American culture all that quickly...) I really thrived there. But it is not for everyone, and there'd be fewer young people with huge college debt bills and no desire to work in their field if they weren't rushed into college but instead offered different options. My husband's parents are a mechanic and a cosmetologist, and never suggested or encouraged their sons to go to college--Angel did, after taking a job working on a roofing crew, he knew he couldn't spend the rest of his life in something like construction, so he wanted to go to college, and put himself through Nursing school. His little brother isn't interested in going to college, but I hope he finds the right kind of field for him! There are many great options out there. A needless and expensive B.A. is not always the answer for someone who's not sure what they want to do.

    1. I'm glad that college went well for you! Oh my, I'm sure adjusting to American culture must have been rough! It wasn't until I met an exchange student in high school that I realized how different the culture in America is from so many other places. That is so cool that Angel has seen both sides of this spectrum-the more nontraditional approach without college, and then going back to college-that totally makes sense to pursue nursing, something that he'll be able to do when he's unable to work construction. But at that point, since he had already been working, I'm sure it was a lot simpler to have some type of financial security and peace going into college. I hope that his little brother is able to figure out what works best for him-I agree with you; if you really don't know what you want to do, taking the time and money to earn a random B.A. probably isn't that prudent.

  2. It's definitely not for everyone. I wish we, as a society, helped students think more about what they want to do with their lives so they could find the right training. There are so many wonderful opportunities that don't require a 4-year degree (and the debt that often comes with it).

    1. Thanks for the response, Shannon! I agree with you-I think it'd be great if our society started helping students in this, and hopefully if enough people try to do this, society in general will turn around!