If college isn’t for you, that’s okay

Students at Georgia State can get help and connect with Career Services to discuss the work they do and demonstrate their future proficiency of transferable skills. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

Every year, thousands of students enroll at Georgia State and numerous other higher education institutions across the globe. But why?

Some people are in school to better themselves and further their education of their own free will, while others are here doing all that only because they essentially have no choice in the matter. Even the conversation of not going to college can turn into a family feud in an instant, and that’s not right. 

Some parents want their kids to go to college at all costs, literally. Parents willingly lett themselves or their children go into debt to attend a college or a university without even thinking twice about it.  

According to NerdWallet, the “total U.S. student loan debt is $1.6 trillion, and 2018 college grads with loans owe $29,200 on average.” 

The amount of student loan debt will increase so long as the cost to attend college increases. 

Debt.org reports that since 1980, “tuition costs at public universities [have] risen from $2,119 to $9,410, a jump of 344%. Private college tuition is up from $9,500 in 1980 to $32,410 in 2017, a jump of 241%. By comparison, food and electricity costs have risen about 150% and gasoline prices have risen more than 200% over the same period of time.” While this might be construed as a case of “bettering yourself no matter the cost” sometimes college, in fact, makes things worse for some people.

In addition to the debt, college is, quite frankly, depressing for some people.

According to a mental health survey done by the American College Health Association in spring 2019, 45.1% of male and female students have reported feeling so depressed that it was hard to function.

Classes are difficult, teachers don’t give any leeway, friends might not be coming to you as easily as you expected — all these factors can compound to make college a living hell for some people. 

There are so many pressures in life, from dressing a certain way, acting a certain way, looking a certain way and so much more. But these pressures should not dictate what you do in life. So why should the pressure to apply and attend college be treated any differently?

While you may see statistics telling you to do everything but drop out, follow your heart. If you know that school isn’t for you and that you can be successful in doing something else, then do that. Don’t drop out without any rhyme or reason, though. Have a plan, whether that plan is to work to earn money for college so that debt isn’t as stressful or to make your side business your main business. College doesn’t have to be for you. 

While sticking with the status quo might seem like the easiest thing to do, it doesn’t have to be the way things are. Graduating high school is the end of a 12-year span of your life that you didn’t have a hand in writing. But it’s the start of a whole new chapter, and you can write the rest of your story on your own terms, with or without college.