School is no longer the norm. As bold as it might be to say that ㅡ especially at a school that prides itself on advancing its students to some of the best colleges in the nation ㅡ it is not a theoretical statement. The world we live in today is not the same one 25 years ago. We have more opportunities.
“But why not?” you might ask. I’ll put it simply: everyone is different. Mind-blowing, I know, but I’ll explain. What so many of us have done, including me, is to look up to colleges as the gateway to success. We have wrongly understood that there is no future without that degree, that there is no other way to succeed besides graduating from college. Yet, this could not be any further from the truth.
The unfortunate news is that a grand majority of us have been programmed to believe all of this. We pay more attention to the “brand” of college than we do strengthening our own skills. If a painter can create the most brilliant pieces of art, why would this person force themselves into an institution that does nothing to expand his passion? I believe that you, the one reading this, would agree with me that it is not practical to spend your time or money on subjects that you do not need to know. But before you go off believing that school is completely useless, we should get one thing straight: You are not the same person as the one next to you. Allow me to repeat it. You are not the same person as the one next to you. Just because Bobby in English class, who isn’t focused on Biological Engineering like you, does not plan on going to college, doesn’t mean that you should follow in his footprints. The same way that, just because one student is going to a UC, it doesn’t mean that you can’t go to a Cal State. You see the point I’m trying to make?
There is no rule that declares that one must go to college. According to the Education Commission of the State of California, the compulsory (a fancy word for obligatory) education age requirement is 6-18, but a minor must complete 12 years of school to be eligible to drop out. Beyond this point, it is up to the individual to decide what he or she wants to do with their life.
With all that said, it should also be understood that the options aren’t all that unreliable. Again, the college brand exists as a guaranteed success in life, but your options are not as limited as you might think. Despite popular belief, it’s possible to work just with a high school degree, and a variety of them pay very well. Careers like an insurance sales representative, optician, power plant operator, and a physical trainer are just a few to name. Granted, you need the proper training for these positions, but rest assured that they’re not far-fetched to achieve. Trade schools are also a viable option. After a two-year education at one, you can land a job quite quickly, not to mention that graduates of a trade school make just about the same as a college graduate. The military, of course, is another route to take and the benefits that come with it can also be considered. Ultimately, these all require discipline that you, the person, must understand about yourself. This can either work for you or it won’t, simply consider how you would fit into these options if you so choose to follow them.
So what is the point of all this? No, I did not write this to encourage dropping out of school, but I do think it’s pivotal to realize that you, the student, have options. If you have a gift for something, a dream of yours to achieve, a passion that does not require you to go to college, you have the option to not go. If your goal is to become a corporate lawyer, a neurologist, a college professor, a civil engineer, and countless other occupations that would be too long for me to list (or maybe I’m just lazy), perhaps you do need the education to advance forward in your career. Again, you are not the same person as the one next to you. You have to decide what to pursue and act upon the steps necessary to reach it.
A lifetime of regret is a lot worse than a temporary struggle. I would rather have you struggle in an attempt to pursue your dreams ㅡ whether it be at a college or not ㅡ than do what is expected in order to please someone else. I urge you to not follow the norm. At MCHS, we push you to get you where you want to be, but it should not taint your interests in life.
Keep it simple. The driver is the one behind the wheel, not the passengers.