From a young age college is forced on you. By kindergarden my best friend already wanted to go University of Arizona. It’s expected of you to graduate high school, and then immediately head off to college. When I was in 8th grade, Stanford sent me a letter inviting me to their online high school to fast track to their college. I rejected Stanford.
Sure, I probably never would have survived Stanford, I don’t have an Ivy League work ethic or even intellect. And they didn’t reach out to me from nowhere, I took the SSAT to get into a boarding school on the east coast and my scores warranted that response. But why did I reject them? They’re a great school and I’m expected to keep my options open. But, surprise, I don’t necessarily want to go to college.
When I pitched this idea for an article I said some rash things like, “college is stupid and dumb and no one needs it,” which isn’t quite correct. What I think is stupid and dumb is that from birth I’m expected to want to go to school, get a practical degree, fall in love with some nice man, have 3 kids and drive them to soccer. I never ever said I wanted that, and I think it’s ridiculous to ask every individual child to end up at some college. Right now, I can name at least 15 kids who I personally know who will never end up at college, either because they don’t want it, or because they couldn’t necessarily prosper there.
Teachers expect you to go to college because when they went, college still guaranteed a good job and a stable income. That’s no longer true. According to Pew Research Center, unemployment among recent grads remains higher than it was before the Great Recession. In 2012, about 44% of grads were working in jobs that didn’t require a college degree. Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers, according to the Federal Reserve. Basically, you’re not guaranteed anything, except debt.
College and mental health. What do you think of? Research conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness shows that 1 in 4 college students have a diagnosable illness, 40% do not seek help, 80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities, 50% have been so anxious they struggled in school. In a survey conducted by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors, 36.4% of college students reported they experienced some level of depression in 2013. Those numbers are far too high for college to be considered something that benefits students.
Image from The Odyssey Online