We Need to Learn That College is Not the Only Option


Jane Hilger, Writer

As the end of the year is quickly approaching, more and more seniors are asking the question: what comes next?

The decisions we make could affect us for the rest of our lives. Since middle school, we have been told that we need to go to college to be successful in life. The focus of our lives becomes where we want to go to college. However, the focus should instead be on what we want to do with our adult lives. It is important to emphasize the other options we as students have for our post-graduate existences.

There are a lot of stigmas surrounding people who do not go to college after high school, but there shouldn’t be. You shouldn’t have to go to college to be seen as a successful person.

56.9% of the Wilde Lake graduating class of 2016 went on to attend a 4-year college or university. The rest either attended a 2-year college or university, entered the military, or got a full-time job. Almost half of the graduates did not attend a 4-year college, yet Howard County spends much of its focus for juniors and seniors on college.

College is not for everyone, and finding alternatives to college should not be seen as a failure. While many people may find success in pursuing a higher education, there are other paths to success schools and society need to focus on more.

College is not always a reasonable option for some high school students; their academic performance or financial situations could limit the available choices. However, this should not mean that they have no other opportunities to be successful. There are many other paths to success.

32.9% of the Wilde Lake graduating class of 2016 attended a 2-year college or community college. But there seems to be an objection to community college. Some people do not refer to it as “real college,” or think that it is easier than the traditional 4-year college. Some people even think that people who go to a community college will not go as far in life as people who go to a traditional college or university. But society needs to reevaluate their views of community college. Community college is a much more affordable option, and it works as a great gateway to other paths, such as a transfer to a four-year college. Instead of a stigma surrounding community college, teachers and guidance counselors and parents should encourage students to consider this option.

Another option some students are unaware that they have are trade schools or specialized training. There is a widespread belief that trade schools are inferior to 4-year colleges and that people who attend trade schools are underachievers compared to traditional college students. However, trade schools are great opportunities for students to get practical training and experience in a job field that they want to pursue. Trade schools allow graduates to get a head start on entering the workforce, an opportunity that students who attend a traditional college do not receive. Society needs to remove the disapproval of trade schools.

Sometimes, college is not the right pathway for students who have just graduated high school. And that’s okay! Some students will benefit more from attending a community college, trade school, or exploring other options, such as joining the military, volunteering, or taking a gap year. We need to get rid of the disapproval surrounding these other options and learn that alternatives to the traditional 4-year college are reasonable and viable options that students should not feel shame about taking.