Indiana Daily Student

OPINION: Don't let society convince you that college is the only path

How often have you been told that you must go to college to get a good job? 

From a young age, it is instilled in us that we must attend college. We are programmed to believe that there is only one path we can take in life. We must pay thousands of dollars to attend an institution that will spit us out into the corporate world, and the more money you pay, the better job you’ll receive.   

That simply isn't true.  

I don't care what your parents tell you, what your teachers tell you, or what society tells you. College isn't for everyone, and it isn't the only path.  

When I was in high school, my mom encouraged me to take a gap year. She could tell I was hesitant about where to go and what degree to study. I wanted to travel and write, so I had only mapped it out that far. However, I refused to take her up on the offer. I felt that if I were to take a gap year, I would have failed at life. I would graduate at a different time than my friends, prolong my schooling one year further, and I wouldn't have done what was expected.

[Related: OPINION: It's OK if college isn't 'the time of your life']

But the thing is, none of that is true. It is just what society conditioned me to believe. 

Although I ended up loving the school I chose, a gap year would have benefitted me exceptionally.  

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted, and I have considered changing my major many times. That gap year would have given me the chance to gain experience in the real world and figure out how I felt about certain careers before I spent thousands of dollars pursuing a major.  

Another reason I know that gap year would have helped is I still think about dropping out daily.  

Why? As a travel journalist, I feel that experience is more important than a degree. Eventually, when I apply for a job, the employer will look at my portfolio of work and my experiences. So, as I sit in class, I wonder why I am here and not out traveling the world to build my portfolio.  

This can be applied to so many careers.  

Hundreds of jobs allow people to make a livable wage, some higher than just livable, but don't require a college degree.  

[Related: OPINION: I have not loved college, and that's okay]

You could become a flight attendant and make anywhere from $50k-118k a year, according to salary.com. That is a higher salary than a good portion of degree-required jobs. Additionally, you could be a firefighter and make anywhere from $53k-92k

There are so many paths you can take other than college. Social media has opened a door for hundreds of new jobs, between becoming an influencer, doing freelance work or even something as simple as selling clothes online.  

The truth is, some people simply don't belong at college. Whether it is the social environment or the academic rigor, sometimes it just isn't meant to be. If I didn't genuinely enjoy learning and engaging in classes, there is no way I would have made it this far.  

The pressure to remain in college, whether from society or your parents, builds up for years. However, most of the time, if you feel like college isn't for you, you're probably right. You know yourself better than anyone, so don't let anyone pressure you into going or even staying.  

Of course, you should always decide a plan before committing to the action, but don't pressure yourself to stay just because society tells you should.  

Gentry Keener is a sophomore studying journalism and political science.  

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