As millions of high school seniors walk across stages to get their diplomas with their families cheering and crying in the stands, makes me think about when I graduated from high school. In 2003, I too walked across a stage, shook some hands and posed for pictures smiling and hopefully of the freedoms ahead and future I had been working towards for 12 years. I then headed off to college to check off another milestone for my life not knowing what the world had in store for me.
Four years later, I was faced with the cold hard reality that no one in the United States of ready for; the economy tanking. Strapped with astronomical amounts of student loan debt I became part of the first movement of college grads who had to move back in with their parents to look for work, any work, to make some money.
I cried. I screamed. I wished I had never gone to college. I still wish I hadn’t.
Yes, class of 2015 I am telling you not to go to college, at least not yet. Let me ask you; why do you want to go to college? Because you think you have to? Because mom and dad expect you to? Because that is all you have been conditioned to think about since you entered middle school?
Since 1945, the world has made people believe that the only way to have the American Dream is to go to college. And as millions of people flooded into colleges training and conditioning young adults to work in an office to make a paycheck to afford life. But it is now 2015 and things are different. This new generation wants different things, more options and to not be tied down by the expectations of life. There are other less timely and cheaper ways to make a living and live a comfortable life.
Let me tell you kids, there are other options. College isn’t the only answer to having a successful future, but most of you don’t know what those are because public school only preach and prepare you for college. If I could go back and do it again, I would explore these options.
You ever hear of General Education Requirements? They are the classes you have to take in college that not only take up 2 years of your life, but are also essentially repeats of high school. Why would you need to take English 101 when you have clearly successfully passes 4 years of high school english?
Trade Schools allow you to focus on a specific career path without all the extra fluff. These aren’t always things like beauty school, it also includes computer and technical, healthcare and business trades. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to fix computers or run your own business. If you don’t want to waste your time and money, here is a great resource with many options for your to consider. http://www.tradeschooladvisor.com/
Join the Military
While these might seem like a dangerous or unconceivable option for you, it is actually worth considering. Not all jobs in the military have to do with combat or holding a gun, in fact most of them don’t. By joining the military you get a whole series of benefits that your peers could only hope for, but don’t know they want them yet.
Aside for 5-13 weeks of Basic Military Training (it depends on the branch you go into), military life offers a very comfortable life. You provided housing, food, 100% medical coverage (ask your parents what they pay for medical coverage), a paycheck and a skill. You get to pick what job you want when you enlist, so if you chose a skill that transfers well into the civilian world you have the potential to make good money. If you sign a 4 year contract and go in after high school, but the time you are done with your contract and your peers are graduating from college you will not only have 4 years of work experience under your belt, but you will also have had the opportunity to see the world, train, stay in shape and you always be a veteran, which has many benefits in itself. (Like, you will always be able to get a home loan no matter what your credit score and you can always get medical attention at any VA Hospital.) Here are 10 Veteran’s Benefits You May Not Know About: http://militarybenefits.info/10-veterans-benefits-you-may-not-know-about/
Oh and did I fail to mention that they will pay for your college 100%? Yea, you give them four years and you get a FREE college education. Yea $17,500 a semester to cover tuition cost, books, room and board while you go to school. Currently, most State College charge around $5000 a semester for school before books, room and board.
What is the average price of college? Find out here: http://www.collegedata.com/cs/content/content_payarticle_tmpl.jhtml?articleId=10064
Seek A Job Where You Don’t Need a Degree
While parents and others like to tell you that you can’t get a good paying job without a college degree, they are sorely mistaken. If new college grads are lucky enough to find a job outside of college, they are lucky to be making more than $30,000 a year nation wide. That is roughly $15 per hour which is also the same amount of money people are trying to get the minimum wage raised to (which has successfully happened in Los Angeles and Seattle.) So, does being crippled with student loan debt really sound like a great investment just for a college experience?
There are PLENTY of jobs out there where you can earn a living wage complete with benefits that will also give you job growth and security. Here are a few to get you started.
Go See The World
If I could do it again, I would have traveled the world for at least a year. Using the money I got as a graduation gift, I would have bought a ticket to London, packed a backpack of essentials and peaced out. Seriously, there is no better time to do it: your standards and comforts are still low, you have no financial responsibilities yet, you don’t have anyone to hold you back or to also have to worry about or pay for.
Go see the world! The only souvenirs you need are pictures you can take on your phone. It is easier and cheaper than your family might think. You can house sit your away across Europe, get food from bakeries and deli’s that is going to be thrown out at the end of the day and remember there are way too many things in this world to see to be stuck in a cubicle. Ask any adult you know what they wish they could have done differently and all of them would say travel more.
Here are some resources:
To the class of 2015, please live YOUR life YOUR way and do what is right for YOU!