In today's world, there are a few different routes when graduating high school, but only two I could think of that always seem to get positive vibes. Those two are to join the armed forces or go to college. For some people doing both is society's answer.
There are so many more answers out in the world that as a society we should be looking at in the same light.
In all reality, there are plenty more options that get ignored or scrutinized just because it is not a norm. Some of the options include working full time or part time, going through a short-term program, going to school but not full time, doing on-the-job-training, or just simply taking time to figure out what we want to do.
Some people do a variety of different things in this list.
These are just a few options that as a society people need to stop shaming.
I am one of the very fortunate people in the world that get the opportunity to go to college, much less a university. While I work part time, I am grateful to my dad that lets me live at home to focus on school and not be a complete adult. I still pay my own bills and have student loans, but they are different kinds of bills. The bills I pay are things like gas and tuition, sometimes my books, but it is important for me to understand that everything I just listed allows me a form of privilege that because of today's economy most people my age or older don't have.
When first graduating college, I went to a different university in Oklahoma. It was a public university, but between tuition, books, room and board, a meal plan, parking pass, and fees even after at least $5,000 student loans I still owed roughly $8,000+. For a 19-year-old this is a lot of money.
For anyone, this is a lot of money.
It took help from my dad but also working full time just to get my transcript. Then even longer to pay it completely off. Since 1988, the price to go to a public university has risen roughly 213 percent. While private universities are not as high, the rate is still staggering coming in at 129 percent. These numbers to say are crazy does not begin to cut it.
The sad part is I can completely believe it.
While it makes the military sound more appealing especially for people with limited outside resources, it places hard working people in a trap and the military is not always a guarantee. For example, there are numerous strings attached that make it to where if veterans want to go to school they still pay out of pocket.
I can personally attest to this as I have seen my dad fight to get an education. This is not because he did not receive one while he was in, but because like many veterans he can not use his degree. His degree doesn't work because he is disabled. Once again, the military might be packaged in a pretty bow, but it might not always be the best option and that is okay.
For some people, the best option is to work full time and not go to school. This is normally for a few different reasons. One is even working full time, they still cannot afford to go to school with all the other bills associated with being an adult. Two, they have found a job doing what they love and are happy. Lastly, they have found a steady job which offers training throughout their career.
A great example, is how there are hospitals that have nationally recognized registered nursing programs that run though the hospital.
All of these many options for not going to a school are okay and valid. Yet, as a whole, society says all these very valid reasons shouldn't play a factor. They say that all high school graduates should go to some form of higher education. As a society, we should be shifting the attitude and conversation from 'should' to respecting.
As a society, we should be respecting peoples lives because not everyone has had the same privileges in which I and many others have.
There are countless hours that people in high school spend trying to figure out they want to do with their future. Even for adults, this is true. Collectively, there's pressure from family, friends, and even ourselves. The last thing people need is added pressure from outdated societal norms.
It's time we change the conversation because with life continually getting harder economically and socially, we have to respect each other. We don't have to agree, just communicate and respect each other's choices.