A deep yet anxious sigh escaped from the mouth on the other end of the phone call. The heavy breath was shaky as it struggled to push out words that were too nervous to reach my ears. There was a brief pause before my friend revealed her confession. “Jas, I don’t think college is for me.”
For years I spoke vehemently in favor of getting an education. I stressed the importance of college on everyone around me until they began to believe it themselves. College was a must, especially in my household. I still remember my sister jokingly telling my mom she didn’t have to go to college because she actually wanted to be a clown. To which my mom replied, “well, then you will go to clown college and become the best clown out there.” I couldn’t tell if my mother was joking. However, the point was made from an early age that college was the key to success until my views on the matter changed.
My friend on the other end of the line tried to explain herself. I heard the nervousness in her voice again. “I know you’re disappointed but getting a college degree doesn’t even fit in the career path that I want to pursue,” she continued. “I don’t feel as though I’m learning the right skills for what I want to do.”
The conversation was a familiar one that usually resulted in me convincing her to venture back on the path towards a really expensive piece of paper. However, I, the proud Ravenclaw that I am, was not fully educated in the various other legitimate options. I had to admit that college wasn’t always necessary. There are so many high-paying skilled labor jobs out there that, oftentimes, provides on the job training programs and education outside of the traditional four-year post-secondary institutions.
Many jobs do require a certain level of education and reward those with relevant academic experience. (I’m not sure I would let a brain surgeon operate on me without confirmation that they read through a few medical textbooks and had hands-on supervised training in the OR). However, there are other amazing jobs out there that do not force people to fall into debt choosing a major that may or may not help them gain employment in the future. It all depends on what career path is chosen.
My friend let out a sigh of relief when I told her that I understood her situation and that I agreed with her reasoning. College wasn’t necessary for her career path as it was necessary for mine. Research must be conducted on your own to learn what is needed in order for you to achieve your goals. It’s why I advise anyone grappling with this decision about college to think about what is best for them and their future, explore all possible opportunities, and not to feel pressured to go to a four-year university if you do not want to.