Alright, now that you’re all here, I hope half of you drop this class by Thursday.
Seriously, I don’t care if you’re in this class or not. You don’t care about me, I don’t care about you, that’s how this works. Once I see who’s actually sticking around, I’ll start to care a little.”
This was how one of my professors started her first class of the semester just a few short weeks ago. Blunt, to say the least. At first, I was taken aback, but the more she explained, I was chanting Yes, girl!! in my head.
“Why are you here?” she asked a student a few seats over. “It’s a requirement,” he responded.
“Says who?” she says.
“This class is optional. No one is making you be here.
Nobody said you MUST be here each and every Monday Wednesday and Friday morning at 8 am. Maybe this class is a requirement for a degree, but you made the choice to go to school. You made the choice to be here today,” she retorts.
We all thought for a moment, then nodded in agreeance.
“Like I said, I don’t care if you’re here or not. If you don’t want to be here? Drop my class. PLEASE. I don’t want to deal with you if you don’t want to be here. If you do want to, welcome to business communication.”
As insensitive as her opening statements were, they were filled with truth. Going to college is a choice, 100%. Your parents aren’t making you go. Maybe there are expectations and demands, but you’re choosing to comply with them, to fulfill them.
For starters, let’s acknowledge that college itself is an enormous privilege. Having the opportunity for higher education, or education in general, is something not everyone can relate to. Understand that.
College is a choice. Whether you enroll right out of high school, or choose not to go, that is your choice. Or maybe you’ll go, then drop out. You might choose to go get a degree when you’re 40. All your choices.
Here’s my bone to pick about the whole college thing.
In the town I grew up in, it was quite taboo to not go to college. It was just something everyone did now. Maybe not everyone’s parents went, but a lot did. And those parents would be damned if their children didn’t go to prestigious universities. You could tell someone you’re taking a gap year, or going to a community college, and you’d get the same, “Oh. Well good for you,” response. Every. Time.
Almost like if you weren’t going to an Ivy, you weren’t going anywhere.
So, I went along with whatever everyone else was doing, and enrolled in a huge university far far away from home. Now after leaving said university, moving home, going to a community school, dropping out (2 semesters in a row), taking time off, and now being enrolled again, I can tell you this.
If you don’t want to go to college, don’t go.
Like my professor said, no one is making you. If you don’t want to be there, you won’t succeed, it’s as simple as that. This isn’t high school anymore, where you’re federally required to stay enrolled until you’re 16. Nobody cares if you get a degree or not. So if you don’t want one, or don’t know yet, don’t go.
There is so much pressure on high school seniors to decide what career path they want to enter, and where they want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on an education for this career path. These people are 18 years old. Practically infants in the scope of the professional world. I’m 20, and am just learning how to stand on my own 2 feet.
When you’re 18, college holds so much promise. It holds dreams of new best friends, of intense studies, and huge professional reward. You’re told that if you go to college, you’ll get a good job. It’ll all be worth it.
If I had a dollar for all of the people I know who graduated with a degree they’re not using, I could probably pay my tuition.
When you’re 18, money means nothing to you. You don’t truly understand how much money these 60k/year universities are. You sign up for the student loan you don’t understand either, just knowing you can have the money now and deal with it later.
When you’re 18, you have no clue what you want to do with your life. You’ve had little to no exposure to the “real world” and different job opportunities. High School cooking or astronomy classes aren’t a good enough example of real life careers.
What I’m getting at, is that society is funnelling these kids into these giant schools with tuitions that are exponentially rising, without any direction at all. When I was applying for schools, I had no idea where everyone was learning about these colleges and their programs and their desired field of study. I felt like I was thrown into a tornado of stress-decisions and Sallie Mae, without anyone to tell me how it all worked. My parents didn’t go to college, so they had no clue how it worked either. It was kind of like hey try this, let me know how it goes in 4 or 5 years good luck.
I’ve reached a point in my higher-ed career that I actually want to be in school.
I took some time off, and explored different career paths and interests. When I decided to register for classes again, it was because I wanted to further my education. I wanted to learn again. And I finally knew what I wanted to learn about.
That’s one thing I’ve noticed about being in college. The majority of people in my classes truly want to be there. These students want to succeed, just like I do. In high school, either you tried and wanted to do well and were kind of weird, or you just breezed on through and made a bunch of friends instead. It wasn’t “cool” to do well in school. My freshman year of college, I was dumbfounded when I saw these groups of students in the library collaborating on each other’s resumes. These kids were helping each other find internships, finish projects, study for exams. The motivation was insane.
These people wanted to be there. It’s so clear that an actual desire for something will produce better results. Intrinsic motivation makes all the difference.
And so, if you don’t want to go to college (yet, or ever), don’t go. If you are going to go, wait until you’re ready, know what you’re getting into, and know what you want. It’s a huge decision, and I really truly urge you not to take it lightly. If you’re in school now, or heading back soon, make sure you’re doing what you want to be doing! And absolutely be grateful for the opportunity, and pat yourself on the back for facing the challenge of getting a degree.
Remember, there is no “right” or “wrong” decision. What works for you is the right choice.