By Jayleen Rolon
Elementary school, high school, college, job; it’s the oldest life sequence in the book, and one laid out for me for as long as I can remember. So when a new friend I met online told me that college wasn’t for him despite us being the same age, I did a double take.
As a first-generation student, there was no other option than going to college to take advantage of an opportunity my parents could not and help myself in the long run. More than that, the idea of moving away and meeting a wide range of people while learning about anything I wanted was a dream to me. For others though, it is a mere extension of 12+ years of being forced into a desk and given commands.
“People look at it like marriage because it’s what everyone expects you to do,” my friend told me in our conversation about his decision not to attend college.
Given the fact that being a student requires a high level of commitment and responsibility, and those who decide that it’s not their path get pressured by society constantly for it, marriage is a fair comparison.
There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to get married, regardless of the reasoning behind that extremely personal decision. Whether you get married tomorrow, in fifty years, or never, it’s up to you! The same principle applies to your education.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, of the 3.2 million 16 to 24-year-olds who completed high school in the first nine months of 2018, some 2.2 million, or 69 percent, were enrolled in college in October 2018. According to EducationData.org, in 2018, 42.8% of all persons between age 16 and 24 were not enrolled in school.
Whether they were in a situation like my older sister, who became a teen mom fresh out of high school, or they simply didn’t want to go to college, there’s no reason why they should be met with judgement.
College dropouts don’t deserve judgment either.
With the cost of college tuition increasing and the stress that comes with being a student, it’s no wonder that millions of students realize that college isn’t the right fit for them. Ultimately it’s a matter of preference and circumstance, and demonizing anyone who chooses a different path neglects to acknowledge the many factors that could have influenced the choice.
A number of geniuses don’t have a college degree, from Larry Elison to Russell Simmons, and yet, they found their way.
College is a beautiful experience and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to further my education. I am not telling you to fill out the paperwork to drop out right after reading this, but whether or not it’s right for you is not for others to decide. There’s a reason why you get to choose between a college path or career path in the Game of Life, and why you can still win regardless of that choice.