Where are you going to college? What are you going to major in? Where have you applied? Have you gone on any tours?
As students enter high school they are bombarded with these kinds of questions. The main lesson students learn is that everyone thinks they should go to a 4 year university. Unconsciously, from the time others start talking to students about their future, they learn that anything less than a degree from a 4 year university is failure. This mindset is detrimental to their planning for the future. If students are focused on what society tells them, they cannot fully know what they want.
Why do people assume, after high school, the next logical step is college? As colleges have become more prevalent it makes sense for more people to attend college. The problem with this is the college has become more expensive and the debt that one will acquire is significant. There are not enough jobs that require a bachelor's degree to support everyone who goes to college.
It frustrates me to no end that instead of educating students on all of their options, teachers make students focus on plans to attend college. This sends the message that to be successful they need to go to college, but this is not the case. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that only 18% of jobs in 2013 required a bachelor's degree. In 2015, the Census Bureau reported that 32.5% of people 25 and older had a bachelor's degree. For some people college is the right option, but it is not for everyone and students should not feel pressured to do something that is not right for them. In 2008, 61% of college students that started at age 20 or younger dropped out. How many of those had adults push them towards a degree they did not want? How many would have enjoyed going to a technical college? Did they even have the knowledge to make an informed decision?
At age 14 or 15 students are pressured to start thinking about what they want to do with the rest of their lives. The problem is that their brains are still developing and they are struggling to discover who they are. If they do not even know who they are yet, how can anyone expect them to know what they want to do? How can anyone expect that they know all their options?
We need people to go into every career field and some do not require a bachelor's degree. Students should stop being pushed to attend college, but instead taught how to look at their skills, their strengths and weaknesses, and assess in what they would do well. Help them to find what they enjoy and want to do long term. See where that fits into the work place and find the best path for them to pursue. There will be times that this path is college, but that is not always the case.