Almost every parent tells their child that they have to go to college. To a majority of parents, it’s either something they experienced and so expect their child to have it, or something the parent never had and want their child to have more opportunity for a better life. Sometimes I really wonder what college is and what it’s really worth.
It’s interesting that college is an ideal that is shoehorned to every child in grade school and if you’re not on track to attend it in high school, it’s stigmatized. Adults will assume that you’re not going anywhere if you’re not going to college, or if you don’t at least have another plan. But is it really okay to have another plan other than to go to college?
Every year, high school hopefuls graduate and plan to embark into the next stage in their life, matriculating to their college or university of choice. Some people go to community, some people embark on Ivys.
But the thing about college is that so many people aren’t utilizing it like they should be. Some people get caught in the undertow, and once you’re so far below the surface you really wonder what you’re doing in life.
College is not for everyone. The way kids are raised, they feel like it’s a must and those who can’t achieve it, for whatever reasons, are left with regret. Even those who do go to college and aren’t successful often wonder what went wrong. It’s not supposed to be easy, but is it supposed to be bludgeoning to your psyche, damaging your character and mental health? Maybe that’s dramatic, but while this is supposed to be a time of life building, it’s often for people to lose themselves in the motions.
Not going to college should no longer be stigmatized. College is hard. Some people can’t keep up. Kudos to those who do, but not everyone who runs in the race finishes first, or even second or third. When the workload piles up, it’s easy to think that giving up will release all the pressure, but you can’t because you’re in too deep.
And the worst part is, education is literally a business. They are selling knowledge, and you may not be paying for most of it with your own money, but you’re paying for it. It took me a long time to wrap my head around the fact that education could be for profit, because it’s such a quintessential thing and it’s fed to us since we’re in grade school.
For every little junior and princess in kindergarten, someone asks them what they want to be, and for every one of them that says doctor or astronaut, they have no idea the life they’re about to begin, or if that’s what they want to do. We are required to go to kindergarten, we are required to go to grade school, middle school, even high school to an extent, and yet when we are college bound, there are so many hoops to shoot through.
Did anyone ever stop and think how much work you had to put in for college, how much money, how it would really change your life? We must all think it’s a necessary evil, a fun one at the very least, sign papers and pack our bags. If we didn’t go to college we’d have nothing. But all of a sudden we have to buy something that’s been free and spoonfed to us our whole lives. Some people aren’t ready to make that jump and are thrown in the water to sink or swim anyway. Others paddle onward and hope for the best.
When you go to the store and buy a bag of potatoes (because who doesn’t love potatoes), you have to make sure they’re not bruised, rotten, old or just not good enough. You want a fine potato that you can cook up and do anything with. You wanna bake this potato, make french fries, skins, mash it, boil it, cook it how you want and get your fill. You should know the shape that potato is in at check out, and work with it later. If it’s really rotten, you could return it, but you better make a good case. College is a potato.
Understand that you are paying for this to better your life and that you have to make it work. At the end of the day, it’s just another product that you are investing in, so you better make the best of it and make sure it’s the damn best potato you can afford. But, it’s important to know that some people don’t like potatoes, and that’s okay. It’s versatile, and you have so many opportunities, but it’s not the only option.
If you want to run the family business, go ahead. If you want to go into the navy, the army, the military, coast guard, serve your country, go ahead. If you want to run your own business from home, go ahead. The fact of the matter is, whatever you do you need to invest as much into it as you would anywhere else.
If you’re in college, you might as well finish it out, but make sure you do it your way. You have the chance to do whatever you want, so don’t go to med school because you feel like you have to. You bought it, so do with it what you want. We’re all legally adults at 18, and if anyone tells you otherwise about your major or whatever, follow your heart.
While it’s a great opportunity, it’s not meant for everyone. College is a segway to do what you love, to make the change you’ve always wanted, your chance at success — but not your only chance. People talk about celebrities and successful people who never went to college all the time. Not everyone is going to be a Bill Gates or a Steve Jobs, but if you made a quarter of their salaries you’d be pretty happy. People should follow what they love and take a step back and understand that college isn’t the only option.
One day you’ll get to be the person you were meant to be, and you don’t have to spend your early twenties dying at 2 a.m. for an exam to do it.