I was getting my things together, about to head out the door, when I get a phone call from a friend. Being that I’m an author, he wanted to share a book idea he had been chewing on for a while, and, of course, I was very eager to hear what he had to say and to share my thoughts. Our conversation soon trailed off into new directions and the subject of school came up. We both graduated from universities and we both expressed our frustrations about school. Going to college is heavily promoted in our society, however, for many millennials, acquiring a college degree doesn’t lead to a life of financial prosperity , security, and peace of mind like we had been told.
We heard it from our parents, “Go to college!” We heard it from members in our community, “Go to college!” We heard it from our teachers, “Go to College!” Our parents wanted a better and brighter future for us, which is why they pushed so hard for us to attend a university — we understood and adopted their enthusiasm. College was idealized to be this oasis of academic wonder that would quench us awake, where we would be exposed to so many new ideas and evolve into these well-rounded, highly-educated citizens who would take the world by storm. We were told that our success was guaranteed with a degree. Well, it didn’t quite happen like that.
Millennials graduated with the idea that now they would be catapulted into success, and were extremely disappointed when that didn’t happen. We couldn’t find jobs, most of us had no idea what we wanted to do, we were drowning in debt, and we lived at home — in our eyes, we had failed. Gravely ashamed of our perceived lack of progress, we didn’t share our feelings with our peers, completely unaware that they, too, were enduring the same challenges.
Let me just say that I am all for quality education, I am simply opposed to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars, and getting into debt for a piece of paper that didn’t greatly propel me forward as I was promised it would. We all made a great investment, only to leave just as broke, clueless, and with no job prospects in our field of interest as the day when we first walked on to campus. I am opposed to not receiving in return what I put in. I told my friend that I don’t know if I would promote going to college to my kids to the same degree that it was promoted to me. It would all depend on what my child was aspiring to be. If they want to be a doctor, lawyer, teacher, social worker, therapist, etc. then I would definitely understand why they would want and would need to go to college. Those types of careers, along with others, demand that you acquire a wealth of academic knowledge — I get it. But what if you don’t want to be any of those things?? What happens to the rest of us?
After navigating through that super rough transition into the “real world”, some of my peers are still trying to figure out their next career move, while others are doing things that they enjoy, however, it really didn’t require them to go to a 4 year university to do. It appears that happiness and financial prosperity is not solely restricted for those who are heavily degreed, but it also comes to those who are simply the most creative, inventive, consistent, and bold enough and gritty enough to move forward with an idea that they’ve conjured.
My suggestion would be to go to a community college for a year after high school. Take some prerequisites, decide if what you intended to study is what you actually want to study. When I think about it, it seems unfair and a bit illogical to have 18yr olds come to a conclusion about their future so soon by picking a major they are not 100% sure about — they’re still babies for crying out loud. Some of them haven’t even gotten the opportunity to vote in their first election, not to mention, they aren’t even old enough to get into any clubs, or even rent a car, or are emotionally/mentally ready to deal with the twists and turns of life just yet. So why would we trust them to fully know what they will do for a good portion of their adult lives when they are still growing?
So to all those young people out there, here’s some advice I wish someone else had shared with me: College is not the only way to a better life. If you decide to attend one, then that’s great, if not, don’t fret. Just know that your success is not solely dependent upon whether or not you have a degree. If you still need clarity as to which way to turn, then take the time you need to gain that clarity and then decide if a university is the right path for you. Honestly save your time. Save your money. Save yourself the stress, frustration, and unnecessary pressure. Stand still, wait till the fog clears, and then move.