Go to school. Get a degree. Get a job. These are the words said to every high school senior as society convinces them they need a college degree to be even the least bit successful. My opinion might not be a very popular one to entertain on a college cam pus, but it might be one some of our Truman State freshmen are beginning to realize after completing their first semester — college is not for everyone.
Last semester, my brother finally made the tough decision to drop out of college. He weathered three semesters at two separate universities before realizing he still had no clue what he wanted to do with his life. He wasn’t meant to attend a university at that point, and it’s not because he was too stupid or wasn’t prepared for college. Like many college applicants, he rushed to apply because parents, teachers and mentors told him that was his only option. They were wrong.
College is not the end-all, be-all of a successful life. In fact, the debt left over from college has the potential to ruin a person more than their degree could ever help them. Depending on the field of work, it might actually be better for an individual to
find a job and then take a few classes here and there so they can climb up the corporate ladder until they eventually reach the top. Anyone who claims a college degree will start you closer to the top is lying. Without experience, that degree will start you right beside everyone else. There are so many other options out there for high school graduates, many of which can actually pay more than jobs requiring a four-year degree.
Granted, attending college can be a phenomenal opportunity, and in some cases, it really can open more doors for a given individual. However, it will only open more doors if that individual goes in with at least some idea of what fields they would be willing to work in after college. Otherwise, students either drop out or end up with a degree that is essentially useless to them. College also can be an excellent time for students to find themselves and discover their true passions, but often the same can be done by taking a year or so away from school. Saying no to college — even if only for a semester or two — can save students thousands of dollars in tuition they might have never spent in the first place, or save them the extra year they would have to take if they changed their major halfway through their college career.
It sounds simple. If it’s not for you, don’t go to college. It is not simple.
There is a blatant stigma against people who never furthered their education. They are all either shoved into the stereotype of the lazy younger generation who will live in their parents’ basements forever, or they are considered too stupid to make it through college. What people fail to realize is education doesn’t have to occur in an institutionalized classroom. In fact, not everyone can learn in the classroom because they need solid, practical application instead — the same environment you find outside of college, in the real world. Still, even the people who realize this fact will force themselves through college anyway so they won’t be branded with the negative connotations of being a “college drop-out.”
Here at Truman, no one wants to hear this. As students, we’ve all invested ourselves in this University, and the thought that we might have made the wrong decision, a decision that’s cost us thousands upon thousands of dollars, is too frightening to entertain. Of course, for seniors and second-semester juniors, I honestly encourage you to stick it out just a little longer and hope by now you have a game plan ahead of you. However, for the freshman and first-semester sophomores out there who might be questioning themselves after the last few semesters, don’t be scared to really think about why you’re here at Truman. It’s one thing to stick with something you’ve already committed to, but it’s a whole other ball game to commit yourself to a sinking ship.
In the next few weeks those add/drop emails will be coming out from the Registrar’s Office. If you’re like me, you usually brush over them thinking, “I already signed up, so of course I don’t want to drop,” but I encourage you to really think about what those emails mean. If you definitely know what you want to do with your life and know you need a degree to get there, then trash the email. If you don’t know what you want to do, or if you do know and don’t need a degree to get there, then seriously weigh your options. It’s okay if college isn’t for you. It’s high time society understands college is not for everyone, and part of that can start right here at Truman. As college students, we are not any better than anyone else — we simply chose a different career path. We need an attitude of acceptance and encouragement for those who decide their life needs to go in a different direction. So the next time you meet someone who never attended college, hear them out before you judge them.
Holly Fisher is a senior English and linguistics major from Elizabethtown, Ky.
This editorial appeared on page 5 of the Jan. 21 edition of the Index.