College. It’s important and necessary that you go to college. Without it, it’ll be tough to find success. We heard it from our parents, our grandparents, and the people who advised us along the way. A college education has its place and in some cases is extremely valuable, but it’s important to know that success is attainable without it. Know if it works for you.
As a child and young adult, I’d always wanted to enter the field of meteorology. I’m fascinated by the weather and especially love tracking severe storms. The power and fury of nature amaze me, but our ability to predict and capture its essence amazes me even more. It took until my senior year of high school before I realized that it wasn’t the path I intended to take.
It wasn’t that I no longer had the dream. First, my state didn’t have one single school that offered it as a major. I didn’t mind leaving the state but was hoping to stay local to keep costs down. Second, one of my classes as a senior in high school left me wondering about the intensity of the study. While I know I could have handled the work, the teacher of one particularly important class didn’t connect with me. They were a good teacher, but not one who connected with my learning style.
I knew I had to go to school for something else, but what? Well, I’d worked with children as a counselor for five years. I guess I could do that. I’d go to school to become a teacher. Three months, a lot of money, and many long drives in, I realized that I didn’t want to spend all sorts of money to hardly make ends meet. (Bless the good teachers of the world.) It’s not that teaching isn’t great, but I was teaching kids in methods that didn’t contain me to a classroom. I realized it wasn’t for me.
So I left. I quit my childcare job, left school, and started showing up to practice every day for the hockey team I was working for. After a month of hard work there, the rest was history. I traveled the country for the next several years working for professional hockey teams. It offered an experience that I never could receive sitting in a classroom. The pay was decent and it left me with no mountain of debt.
The lesson I learned? College isn’t a necessity. It can help, but it’s not a necessity.
Perhaps I’ll go back, someday. Perhaps not. Many will say that the worst thing we can do is to send an immature eighteen year old off to find out what they want to do with their life. Especially when they feel obligated to do so like I did. And then we start them out with a mountain of debt. Welcome to the real world. You might end up hating what you do (three years into a four-year degree) and you have an enormous amount of debt to pay off.
Most colleges don’t care because they’re run as businesses, aiming to take your every last penny. They make theirs. I can guarantee they are looking out for themselves before you, which is cool and fine in business. But don’t let them fool you. Make sure you look out for you first. Make sure you take care of yourself. A college education is a great tool when used to your advantage. Be certain you’re not fooled by the alumni, the beauty of the campus, and the “prestige” associated with it.
You shouldn’t buy a house without a full inspection. You shouldn’t make a mortgage payment for school unless it’s exactly what you want. Education comes in many forms. And in the end, the best businesses will hire on character and personality, while they teach and train people their business particulars. Anyone with money (or sometimes not) can go to college. Not everybody is able to be positive, upbeat, and hard-working. There are some things money can’t buy.