Life after high school is something that is constantly on a teenager’s mind. Usually, the traditional step is college, but for the students who aren’t going, what will their next step look like, and how will they be successful in it?
From a very young age, society drills in most students’ heads that going to college is a necessity. 42 percent of children are going to college because their parents want them to, and that getting anything less than an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ is considered “not good enough.” Most students are excited to go down to their mailbox and see all the envelopes and packages that universities send to invite them to their college. Not attending a four-year college is considered as a failure in some people’s eyes.
“42 percent of children are going to college because their parents want them to, and that getting anything less than an ‘A’ or a ‘B’ is considered ‘not good enough.'”
However, some recent college graduates aren’t doing too well in the job market. According to economist Andrew Sum of Northeastern University, more than 44 percent of college graduates under 25 who were area studies majors were unemployed in 2009 or working in a job that did not require their degree, showing that with a college degree, it is still very difficult to find a job.
Furthermore, there are students who can’t afford the debt or loan from a university with an average of $26,000-plus in debt, or can’t handle the cost of going to college in general. And for these students there is the option of community college or using the real world to find mentors and learn practical skills such as traveling, volunteering, apprenticing and interning. Students are also using the internet at their disposal with self-directed learning. Now students can learn skills on their own to succeed with educational resources like Udacity, edUx, Coursera, M.I.T. Open Courseware, and Khan Academy.
“I don’t know what I want to do career wise, so looking for jobs now and working helps me figure out what I want to do and don’t want to do, and it narrows everything down,” junior Megan Matty said.
“With adolescence, it’s really important to learn the basis of experience and how to talk to people and how to deal with them, because eventually, they will be in the real world and it’s good to know how it is in a more realistic scenario,” junior Shazreh Bokhari from Neuqua added.
“I don’t know what I want to do career wise, so looking for jobs now and working helps me figure out what I want to do and don’t want to do, and it narrows everything down.” -Megan Matty, junior
Another reason might be that students who decide not to go to college may be because their profession doesn’t require it. With this, some students have a clear plan of what steps they’re going to take after high school that might not involve college to become successful.
For some students, this plan involves military service.
“After high school, I am going to boot camp in San Diego to become a Marine, then a specialty school based on my chosen job in the military based on my chosen job in the military. While I am in the Marines, I will have guidance from superiors and mentors. I think the military will make me more successful than college because I still get all of the advantages of a college class without paying for it,” senior Andrew Ainger said.
For others, their post-high school plans involve modeling and the fashion industry.
“I have already been to modeling school and in an agency. I started when I was 5, and have been on and off. I stopped modeling for some time in my old school, but I am going to start again in the summer. However, after modeling I am planning on going back to school to pursue psychology,” junior Nia Magee said.
Nevertheless, there are many opportunities for students who are on the fence of wanting to go to college and looking to put college aside for a little while for various reasons. Students have sought out successful paths they could take as alternatives from advice provided by guidance counselors and others.
A lot of students might be interested in trade school or community colleges such as College Of DuPage and Waubonsee Community College, along with the military. There are students who take a gap year to explore their options and determine what they want to do. Students can talk to other people in the field or people who have graduated and not gone on to college.
“Though we encourage a university, we want to let them know that a four-year college is not the only option. We want to make it known that there are definitely alternatives [to] a university,” school counseling intern Elisabeth Engler said.