I graduated from South High School in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2016. As a senior, I struggled with deciding if college was right for me after graduation. I wanted a future somewhere in the arts, mostly photography, and didn't really want to end up with a job through someone's company; I wanted to start my own business.
I yearned to apply to MCAD (Minneapolis College of Art and Design) but knew that it was quite expensive & unnecessary to the future I sought out for. Last minute, I ended up applying to the University of Minnesota, and while all of my friends received their acceptance letters, I was put on the wait-list. Looking back now, I'm glad I didn't get in, because I wouldn't be where I am today.
My family is one of the most supportive people out there. My parents never cared if I went to college or not, they just wanted me to do what made me happy. I still get asked by family members if I'm in school yet or when I will end up going. I follow it up with the usual, "No, not yet. Maybe in the next couple of years!" knowing well that I'm not going to change my mind. I did contemplate going to cosmetology school in 2017 because hair was (and is) something I'm passionate about, but I ended up not going through with it. Not being in college gave me a lot of time to think about what I was really interested in and all the possible career options.
In the fall of 2016, I got hired at Caribou Coffee. My wage started off really low but has now increased by $3. I worked Wednesdays-Saturdays giving me three days off in between to focus on other things besides work. Since my friends were off at college living in dorms, I ended up living at home for two years. I never wanted to be that kid that lived with their parents until I turned 20, but I'm really glad I did. It gave me time to save up some money and not stress out about rent. I'm still working at Caribou Coffee and decided to get a second job back in July at Trader Joes.
During my time working at Caribou, I worked as a photographer on the side. My parents bought me my first professional camera for a graduation present and I put a photography service post up on Facebook marketplace. I never thought that a service post on Facebook would bring me business, but it did. I did my first wedding and learned a lot from it. I had some drop out clients, which was also hard and taught me a lot about security deposits. Having my own thing I was accomplishing right out of high school without going to college made me feel good about myself.
A couple of months ago, I had decided to reach out to one of my favorite artists in Minneapolis, Ashley Mary, and asked her if I could take some pictures of her. She ended up saying yes and I got to do one of my favorite shoots I have ever done so far! When you are trying to do something all on your own, you have to find ways to get your name out there and network; having that shoot with her was a good way of doing so, which already has its benefits. I'm currently working on my photography website as well and plan on having it up by the spring to bring more clients.
For anyone who is considering not going to college at all or taking a year off, it's 100% okay to do. If you aren't sure of what you want to major in or what you want as a career, take a year off to think it over and save up some money. There are so many jobs out there that need to be done by people who don't have/need a college degree, even being a barista at a coffee shop. When it really comes down to it, everyone should find a job that makes them happy.
Several people ask me why I don't go to college and if I want to find a well-paid job. My answer to that question is that I don't need a lot of money. I'm already doing what makes me happy, so why would I do something that's unnecessary? Even though I don't attend college, I'm taking time to learn about photography on my own time. I'm definitely going to be taking some classes in 2019 just to be more solid in my computer knowledge when it comes to editing, but I don't need to get a major in photography to make my career what I want it to be.
Even though photography is my current passion, I'm fully aware that it could change at any moment, and life could hand me a different opportunity to do something else. I think it's exciting and a great way to live life especially if you are like me and have a million different interests. So when you are finding your path for your future, always be open to things you didn't expect, sometimes change is good.