I have been in college for five years and am about to go into my final year as an undergrad student. My college path hasn't exactly been traditional, but I have learned so much along the way and met some incredible people. The problem, however, is not all of the people I have met should have been in college. I don't mean to say that these people are not intelligent or capable of doing amazing things with a college degree. I just mean that these are people who are meant to be doing something else with their life and college is holding back from what they should be doing.
As a country, we seem to have this idea that in order to be successful, you have to get a college degree, get a well-paying job, start a family, and then live happily ever after. For many, this is something wonderful to work for, but it’s just not for everybody. This single idea of success seems to be largely fueled by our public schools. So much of curriculum is focused on college-readiness and getting all students into prestigious schools that are going to smother them with unbearable amounts of student loan debt.
I know most people understand that not everybody is meant for college and that there are many great jobs for people without a degree. What makes me upset though is that we seem to make people feel ashamed for not going the college route. We need to stop looking down on our former classmates who didn't go to college. If they are doing something that makes them happy, then let’s be happy for them. Maybe they can teach us something about finding happiness.
Being an educator, I feel like school is one of the best ways to teach this correct mindset. Striving to send every student to college is an admirable goal, but as I mentioned before, it's just not realistic for everybody to go to college. Instead, we should be helping our students discover the things that they are talented at and point them in the right direction for their future. We need to focus on teaching our students the hard and soft skills to be productive members of society. College is not a requirement to being able to contribute something positive in this world.
We all only get to live one life and we're all in it together, so let's not waste this precious time by judging others for not following the same exact that path we chose for ourselves.