Life After High School Doesn't Have To Be College
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Student Life

Life After School Doesn't Have To Be College

You're only maybe 17 or 18, college doesn't have to be everything, but it is made out to be.

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Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

I highly disagree when people say "senior year is easy."

Granted, I am an overachiever who had exams and projects up till graduation, but college decisions do not make senior year any easier. I was very lucky to know myself in high school and applied Early Decision to my dream school. My college decision was made very early on in December, and my classmates thought my stress was over.

The decision process is chaotic, to say the least. It's a learning process entirely on its own.

I was an honor and AP student, so my classmates had really big ambitions for college. Some of their dream schools were Ivy Leagues and other competitive schools like UMich, UCLA, Vanderbilt University, Duke University, and UNC-Chapel Hill. Outside of my over-achieving classmates, other friends were debating whether to stay at home and go to community college or the military.

It doesn't matter if you have a 4.5 GPA or simply trying to be accepted anywhere. Having your options restricted and denied isn't a feeling anyone likes. College decisions are not meant to be taken lightly because it's what students worked for because that's all we were directed to focus on. But there are so many more options aside from college that I wish I considered when I was a senior.

If you're a badass and have the commitment and courage, the military is a great option.

The military isn't for people who do not have any other choice. It gives clear direction and a set, steady career path. Bootcamp and basic training will not be easy, being isolated from the outside world for six to eight weeks, but it definitely builds character. I have seen my best friend go through the Marines a stronger, more confident person. I do not think she would have gotten that out of a typical college experience. And later on, if you decide to attend college, being in the military has benefits and some flexibility to attend school while serving.

Community college is a legitimate, affordable option to take if you want to pursue higher education.

Society pushes students to choose a traditional four-year university as the most secure way to guarantee success after high school, but no one ever talks about the crippling debt families are in because of this decision. Even with scholarships, college is extremely expensive. On another note, leaving home for extended periods of time isn't easy, and if you don't feel ready to adapt, that's okay to admit. Attending community college does not mean you failed or are any less than your peers. Being in a more familiar place allows students to find local jobs and work on the side too.

If you choose to go to university and it isn't a good match, decide it isn't a right fit, and decide to go home, community college helps to get college credit when you decide the right school for you later. Or you can walk out with a two-year associate degree and get to work.

Gap years exist and are completely valid.

I always admire people who take a gap year. Most of the time gap years are dedicated to taking a year off to travel to another country, but it is very daunting and possibly expensive. However, with proper preparation and a goal in mind, it is very possible. This option requires a really strong understanding of who you are as a person and independence. My classmates in college who took a gap year aren't any different than anyone else and have amazing stories to share. One of them went to Austria, became interested in rock climbing, and nearly died longboarding to a gas station.

And gap years do not have to be completely self-funded. Volunteer programs like the Peace Corps exist. People dedicate their time to service and helping people around the world or the country. If you're involved with a church, mission trips are also an option.

And gap years can be solely meant to work and gain financial stability or if you're an artist, go into freelancing and perfecting your craft. It is less common straight out of high school, but it is still a valid option.

The most important thing to remember is you're never locked into one place or decision forever.

Each choice made brings new experiences and your life will mold around that. There is never a dead end. Although I chose to attend college and couldn't be happier with my decision, I wish I knew these other options were available to me earlier on. Higher education knows no age. Waiting a few months or years before you decide to commit yourself to a degree is okay. Not going to college is also okay. Your life will continue to move on whatever choice you make. The fear of missing out is only as real as you let it.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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