You don’t have to go to college.
God, I want to shout this from the rooftops. I am so tired of people shaming, scaring, and forcing people to go to college.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO TO COLLEGE
There, I said it! You don’t have to go to college, and you shouldn’t go to college if you don’t want to! There are so many successful people who didn’t go or didn’t finish college. HOUSEHOLD NAMES. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, didn’t finish college. Richard Branson, founder of the virgin group, dropped out of high school! Rachael Ray didn’t attend college. And if we’re going for MVP, every-day, ordinary heroes, my dad does not have a BA, and he has been hugely successful in his field. There are so many more fantastic examples of people kicking ass without college degrees, and I am so tired of the stigma that is pressed upon us from a young age.
“You won’t be successful if you don’t get a college degree.” I have heard this from family, friends, strangers, even children, yes, children! Can we please stop shitting on others’ lives when they don’t want to do what society expects of them? You shouldn’t go to college if you don’t want to!
When I graduated high school, I wanted to take a year off to figure out my life before I went to college or otherwise. I had gotten into the only school I applied to, and I knew I could defer for a year to make sure it was really what I wanted to do. But those years of people telling me that I would amount to nothing if I didn’t go to school weighed so heavily on me.
I went to college immediately after high school. I didn’t follow my own advice. You shouldn’t go to college if you don’t want to! Even though I was going to an art school, the only thing I thought I could stomach going to school for, I was so fucking miserable there. All the years of anxiety and depression surrounding school crushed me. I came home with fifty-five THOUSAND dollars in debt, debt that I still have. Yes, I could have picked a less expensive school, but I can guarantee that choosing a local college right off the bat instead of a college that was my dream school would have crushed my spirit even more.
I took my year off after that, but you know what? It wasn’t a year off anymore. It was a year in which I worked FOUR jobs to attempt to fend off the national college debt collectors. I didn’t do anything other than work that year, and it was awful. I had no time to celebrate that I completed high school and a year of college. I was thrown into the cold, harsh, debt reality.
And what’s worse? Even knowing that school made me absolutely miserable and left me drowning in debt and depression, people I was close to still pressured me to go back to school.
After my year ‘off,’ I started back up at my local public university as an ‘undecided’ major because my hope of being an artist was crushed. I hated every day I was at school. I didn’t go to half my classes. So I decided to transfer into the art department. My logic was that maybe it would be better, knowing it was costing less money and I was close to my family. But you know what? That was fucking awful too. I would run to the bathroom and cry during classes. There were some classes I wouldn’t go to at all. I would drop classes left and right. I felt like the biggest failure ever. My best friend graduated early from college, and here I was completely miserable with who the fuck knows how much time left at school.
I did that for THREE YEARS before my dad sat me down one day and said, “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to school.” I said, miserably.
“Do you feel like it’s helping you?”
“No, I fucking hate it.” (Yes, in my family, we curse a lot.)
“Then why are you doing it?”
“Because you and mom want me to.”
There. There it was. I wasn’t going to school for me. I was going because I felt like it was expected of me. He spoke to my mom, and after that semester, I stopped going. And, god, I’ve never been happier. Yes, sometimes society makes me feel like a failure, but that shouldn’t be my problem.
Other people’s expectations shouldn’t be your problem.
OTHER PEOPLE’S PROBLEMS ARE NOT YOUR PROBLEM.
If you know that you hate going to school, don’t fucking force yourself to keep going. I wish that someone had said to me that you shouldn’t go to college if you don’t want to while I was growing up. I didn’t think there was another choice.
If getting a degree is not your passion, follow your passion. Learn and grow in your own way. In this day and age, there are so many other ways to acquire the knowledge you need to succeed in business and the world!
If you feel that going to school is your passion or something you want to do, by all means do it!
But if the idea of going to college makes you want to jump off a bridge, hide under your bed, or sit in a corner crying, DON’T DO IT. Make your own journey. Follow your own path. You shouldn’t go to college if you don’t want to!
You are not alone.
I am here to tell you that there are other paths to take, other paths that will still lead to success and happiness. Not going to school won’t make you a failure. As long as you keep dreaming, learning, and doing, you can still kick ass.
There are other ways to learn, other ways to grow, and other ways to be.
If you died tomorrow, would you be happy with the way you’ve spent your time and your life?
Go to college, or don’t go to college. Educate yourself at school, or educate yourself with your own personal journey. Education isn’t all books and teachers. Don’t let other people put their problems and expectations on you.
Whatever you do, though, just make sure to give it your 100%. Whether that’s school, owning a business, having a family, etc. Own your journey and figure out the steps that suit you best to get there. There is no shame in taking a different journey. The most magical things are found on the path least traveled.