Ugh school on a holiday? It’s extremely unfortunate that my school decides some holidays are not worthy enough to celebrate; I could have used the extra day off to study for my immunology quiz. Seeing my fellow peers off for the day made me envious of all their freedom. Why am I constantly in class whereas they get to go out and have fun? This thought evolved to become even larger. Soon, I began to think, what could I do with my life if I didn’t have to go to college? While going to college may seem like a perfectly simple decision for some people, sometimes I wonder if going to college hinders your real world experience. Spending 4 years in an environment surrounded by other students is not a true representation of the world.  Most people attend college during the peak of their youth (18-23), but why is it so important to attend college right after high school or even at all? This has been a reoccurring question of mine ever since watching The Social Network.  Why didn’t Mark Zuckerberg have to finish college to be successful? As I looked into the subject more I found that there are many successful people with limited or no college education: Will Smith, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, etc.…

Mark Zuckerberg and Walt Disney

Though it is true that there are equally as many successful people with college degrees, this just shows that college isn’t the only path to success. College is a huge investment and whether those 4 years in school are going to waste…….only you can decide for yourself.  The real question though is, what alternatives are there? I decided to search for the answers myself. It turns out that there are many alternatives to the ordinary college education.

Work Your Way Up or Start a Business

Many people attend college because they believe it will give them a higher paying job. I however, believe there may be another way to rise in a profession. Depending on the type of job, it can be beneficial to start in a lower position and prove yourself each step of the way. Yes, it may take a while to rise, but you’re still 4 years ahead of the game.  If you are hardworking and motivated than working your way up may be a true alternative to college. However, if the company you spend years at suddenly goes bankrupt, you may be left at the bottom again. Going to college doesn’t guarantee you a job, but it does help you start.  What if you invested that $200,000 you were planning on using for college on a new business?   Many businesses come about without a college education. Don’t believe me? Ever heard of Mrs. Field’s cookies? Well Debbi Fields began her company, Mrs. Field’s, at the age of 20. It wasn’t her education that made the difference; it was her passion and ambition that made her successful. I’m not saying it’s simple to start a business; it’s quite the opposite actually. Starting any business has a large margin of failure, but if you’re lucky enough to survive, it’ll be well worth it.  A college education can be helpful in starting a business, but by not attending college, you can also benefit from some real world experience and that could give you the upper hand on what consumers want.

Vocational School

Sometimes college might even be a more difficult way to get to your dream job. For instance, what if you wanted to be a chef?  It would be much more practical and rewarding to attend a specialized school for chefs rather than attend college.  These types of school usually don’t last as long as a 4 year college, and they are way more specialized towards specific jobs. There are benefits to these types of schools, mainly that you can get certified faster than the college route  so you don’t end up in as much debt, but vocational schools are also limited. Courses at vocational schools are also sometimes taught online or at a community college so you may lose the sense of a “real college experience”. The education may also not be as well rounded as attending college because the classes are directed toward certification for a profession, but if you know what you want to do, these classes may be more practical.

Live a Little!

It occurred to me the other day that college is extremely time consuming. Have you ever had the ambition to do something, but not enough time? My parents are constantly talking about wanting to go see Asia, but I can never find time in my schedule. Since my brother and I attend different schools, it’s hard for us to travel during our breaks since our academic calendars are so different. So what would someone do if they didn’t have to attend college? Perhaps he could go road tripping, see the world, or learn other cultures. Without the time consumption of college holding us back, there is the ability to enjoy the world around us and discover new talents such as music, art, history, etc…. There is however, a problem with this option. In order to travel and experience the world you must have some sort of financial backing, but if you can find a way to finance your interests…….savings perhaps, this could be a valuable option.   As I said before, college occurs during our prime youth and the more education we decide to receive, the more time we lose to do the things we love and enjoy.

Through this whole discovery process, I have found that there are many alternatives to college. Some people find that college is their priority, and some don’t. It’s a personal choice, but no matter what, there is a future for everyone whether or not you decide on continuing your education.

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7 Responses to Optional

  1. Dyna says:

    “The more education we decide to receive, the more time we lose to do the things we love and enjoy”. This is so true every single minute spent here can be spent there….every action has an “opportunity cost”!!

    • amandatse says:

      I agree. There is an opportunity cost to everything.Whatever you choose to do, there will always be some sort of loss. If we choose to do the things we love, that loss will not seem as significant.

  2. unpredictable says:

    I think the problem lies in defying what society has built up as “the right path.” What is the right path? Is it going to college and continuing one’s education? Why does every person cringe and gasp in shock when one says “I don’t want to go to college.” The immediate response is, “You have to!” or “Finish school first.” That’s what parents have taught, that’s what majority of the society believes. What if continuing education in the prime of one’s youth is not worth it? Four years, and many more if one decides to go even higher- onto graduate school. The twenties are a decade where life should be experienced, isn’t it? People who pursue other passions in life are highly frowned upon. Do you have the courage to break of that cycle and think for yourself, to brace the negativity from almost every person you meet?

    • amandatse says:

      Sometimes the we need to decide who we want to live for. Do we try to do what we want or what others want for us? Having the opportunity to go to college is a huge reward, but who is to say that college will teach us what we need? I’m glad you brought up this point. It just shows us that society has taught us the social norms, but in the end it’s nobody’s choice but yours!

  3. murphmel says:

    Nice article! I like the idea of “living a little” and I think it’s an option that a lot of people forget about! I know that I have a lot of friends that actually have taken the time between high school and college to join the army as well, and it seems to benefit them greatly and makes them good candidates when they come back to apply to colleges! College isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, and I’m glad you made a point of explaining why it isn’t for everyone. And thanks for referencing Walt Disney, that made me happy. 🙂

    • amandatse says:

      Thank you for commenting! I agree with you completely. People tend to forget that there are other options to college, but with some research I hope I can widen their views. Inspiring people like Walt Disney should never be forgotten.

  4. Linda says:

    Sometime, people need to back off a little and experience the real world before they decide if college is for them. I have many friends who couldn’t wait to finish college, came out to work, and went back to graduate school with a better appreciation of school and what they want to get out of it.

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