Is college a must?

William T. Robinson, Jr.

William T. Robinson, Jr.

I would like to congratulate and offer kudos to all the young people who are graduating from high school this month. You are to be commended on your perseverance and hard work in meeting one of the most rewarding goals in life.

The knowledge you have gained should aid you in your future endeavors in being more responsible and successful young adults. So take some time and enjoy this moment and pat yourself on the back. Baste in the adulation and joy you have brought to your family and friends because they love you.

Eventually the celebratory observances will cease and you must embark on the next step in the spiral to obtaining economic independence. The choices that high school graduates choose will vary and that’s okay, because everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Students must make choices they feel are personally right for themselves, regardless of pressure from family or outside forces to follow a proposed route.

This may mean forgoing college and just working a job for the time being, obtaining a trade, or even going as far as to open up one’s own business. Contrary to what has been inundated into students’ heads throughout their lives (that you must go to college to get a good job), there are options.

While college enhances most people’s potential and chances to obtain entrance into middle and upper class status, it is not always a guarantee.

You should never apologize for improving your marketability in your desired area of interest. In most cases, it works to your advantage—but there are several college graduates who would argue differently. There is no shortage of college graduates (especially people of color) working in lower paying jobs beneath their qualifications—because the doors of opportunity failed to open in their favor. However, the social experience and wealth of knowledge obtained in college is invaluable and something no one can take away from you, contributing to your personal growth.

Many graduates are opting to take the trade school or technical school route, forgoing the traditional four year colleges which they feel subjects them to accumulating excessive student debt and forces them to take classes they feel are unnecessary for their chosen occupation. Also you cannot argue that those with trades (electricians, TV repairmen, heating and air experts, plumbers, auto mechanics, carpenters, and masons to name a few) don’t make salaries often exceeding those of college graduates or other professionals. Young graduates are also gravitating to professions such as web developers, online advertising managers, insurance agents, tax examiners, real estate agents, dental hygienists and hair stylist and cosmetologists where they often have more flexibility in directing their working hours. When all is said and done, no one can argue that there is anything more rewarding and satisfying than being your own boss when possible.

Parents must be very cautious in forcing a high school graduate who adamantly doesn’t want to go to college to enroll. It could be a waste of time and money, especially if attendees don’t apply themselves and (as a result) are uninterested and miserable. College is expensive and rising student debt from loans can be a lifetime albatross around one’ neck. Attending college should be a heartfelt and exciting decision on the part of the graduate. Alternate choices can also provide the graduate a path to financial and rewarding success.

Love and support by parents and loved ones are vital tools in helping young graduates in their quests to be productive and successful individuals—but their career paths should be their own choice.