The college dillema: Some struggle, some avoid going to college after high school

Karl Sadkowski/Opinion Editor

Higher education is a popular topic among CFHS students. Many consider it just the next step after graduation, but not everyone will go to college. Why not?

Lack of motivation is one reason. Students who otherwise could attend college do not because they lack encouragement from peers and family members. When a family has no college history, it’s a big step to be the first member to go.

Another reason is finances. People who want to go to college cannot because they do not have the money to pay for it or must work to support their own families. Some people choose to attend college several years after high school, slowly earning enough money to pay for the cost.

A third reason is that college just doesn’t fit a person’s interests. CFHS senior Oliver Weilein will graduate in January. Rather than taking the traditional route to college, Weilein plans on getting a job and pursuing what he loves without delay: “[I’m going to] continue supporting hardworking, independent musicians and just keep contributing to the local music scene.” For Weilein and others like him, college is not a prerequisite for job satisfaction.

When asked how he feels about watching most of his peers plan for college, Weilein commented bluntly, “It’s what their parents expect of them. They feel they would be viewed as degenerates if they didn’t go to college.” On the other hand, “Some people go to pursue an interest. I think that’s a right course of action.”

While some students go to college for the parties or to get away from home (or to live up to Mom’s and Dad’s expectations), the greater purpose is to pursue an academic interest and to prepare for a career in that area. College offers the chance for personal and intellectual development, but it is the job of the student to make use of that chance. Awards and diplomas are of but small significance.

On Jan. 5, I passed a poster taped to a locker entitled, “Cedar Falls Students Against College.” It argued that college is both unnecessary and a waste of money, declaring, “You have been misled, or lied to.” But I—the misled high school student—found many of its points very disputable, most notably its comment that many employers search for individuality in their applicants: “On average 70% of people go to college now, that’s not unique.” On the contrary, higher education after high school opens doors that otherwise would remain closed; for example, no employer would give someone who never attended medical school the position of a brain surgeon. Going to college hones uniqueness, not hinders it. This poster’s “70%” statistic only proves that more students want to continue developing their own individuality in order to achieve success in the future. I suggest that the creator of this poster give more thought to what uniqueness is really about. If you don’t want to go to college now, you may change your mind later if you develop interests in areas that require further formal education.

Must every student attend college to lead a fulfilling life? No. College is an opportunity that can provide many benefits, but it is not essential for happiness. But to those who cannot or do not intend on going to college, I say this: keep learning. So much knowledge comes from beyond the classroom setting. A college diploma is not the sole route to knowledge; each of us must be responsible for our own education. Continue cultivating your interests in the most effective way possible, regardless of where you end up.

And above all, stay curious.

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