Around this time of the year, or really all year, to be honest, you will hear most seniors emphasize how stressful the college application process really is. So I wanted to be totally original with my commentary and express once again how stressful the college application process really is. Seriously, it was not fun and I am glad it is kind of, sort of, not really over.
My experiences with the college process this year has gotten me thinking about the value we place in going to college as a society. It is considered the end all be all destination after high school for an overwhelming majority. And I truly believe that it should not be. I realize that there are alternatives like trade schools that are encouraged by guidance counselors, but let’s just be honest, we look down upon those that choose not to continue their formal education after high school. We may not be explicit, but society definitely views trade schools as a second class education compared to universities and reserved for the intellectually inferior.
I have talked to countless of my peers this year who are determined to go to college but have absolutely no clue what they are studying, what they want to do with their degree and if they even truly want to go to college. I have also talked to some seniors who are not even interested in a particular academic field, and either do not put in the work and/or do not perform very well academically. Yet the same people are going to college next year to get their liberal arts degrees that in four years they won’t know what to do with. Many of them even realize that they won’t just magically start becoming interested in a field or transform into exceptional students without putting in the work. Yet college is still their chosen path because that has been what’s ingrained into their heads ever since they were children and anything short of reaching that would be a failure.
We have great alternatives in place, but because of this college-for-all crusade we have been in as a society, we have failed to make them an attractive option. After graduating high school, we are really supposed to, for the first time in our lives, be in control of our destinations. Yet for many of us, our mindsets will give us no other choice besides college. And why exactly are trade schools looked down upon? They help people acquire skills that will directly contribute to a future career and earning, and not to mention, without the prospect of facing tens of thousands of dollars in debt. That is a lot more than what can be said about most bachelor's degree in humanities.
College is really an investment that is supposed to better your future. And if you analyze it like you would any other investment, you realize how insane of an investment college is for some people. What other investment or good would a rational consumer spend tens and thousands of dollars on without being at least somewhat certain of how they are going to use their purchase and what they are going to use it on.
Now I do not want people to be discouraged from going to college. If you are certain then go ahead. But if you are unsure and feel like college is the only option or you are not sure if you have a real reason to attend college, do not allow yourself to feel trapped. Realize that there are alternatives and make your choice with a level of thoughtfulness and certainty.
With all of that being said, I am still going to college and racking up debt to pursue a humanities degree that I have no clue how I will use. So maybe I am the sucker who won’t follow his own advice.