Continuing Series: Throwing Away Societal Pressures. Why College May Not Be Best For You.

By Chanda Alicea

Here we are in our 3rd week of throwing away what society thinks you should do.  I hope you are ready for what I feel is a truth bomb. Going to college doesn’t make you anymore successful than not going to college makes you a failure. Now before I go any further, I don’t want to give you the impression that I am against college and the belief of bettering yourself by continuing your education after you graduate from High School. That is not the case at all. If you don’t believe me, just ask me about my MOUNTAIN of student loan debt!  I am in full of support of anyone who wants to go to college and earn a degree. However, as a person who has accumulated a LOAD of debt by trying to finish college myself, I know that it’s getting costlier by the year. So costly in fact, that I don’t even want to imagine what the cost is by the time my daughter graduates high school.  

The most important thing that we need to keep in mind these days when we approach this topic is cost. Now I’m not the type of person who is going to do the research to throw a bunch of stats at you, but I think we can all agree that the cost of college was ASTRONOMICALLY CHEAPER back when our parents and probably even grandparents were college age kids. I mean everything was cheaper and more attainable back during their times. I think to keep the pressure of that expectation going (if that isn’t what your kid wants) isn’t just a disservice to your kids, but to yourself as well. As parents, we always want what is best for our children, but we need to make sure that we honor them and that path by taking into consideration what their wants, dreams, hopes and aspirations are when it’s time for them to set out on their own.

Seeing how I digressed from what I originally started with, I am now going to set cost aside and talk about why I believe wholeheartedly with my original statement. The success of your life does not lie solely in a college education. If you want to go and pursue a career where you will actually utilize your degree, then by all means that is great! However, if you decide from the git go that it’s not what you want or discover after trying it that it’s not your cup of tea, then that’s totally fine too! Now why do I touch on using the degree you got? Well it’s because, I know plenty of people who went to college, got a degree and isn’t even working in the field that they went to school for and guess what?!? You probably know people like that too!

Now for some people it may have been a complete waste, for others, it may have helped them get a job in a corporation or help them fall into something they love based on what they learned along the way. Not that any of these things are wrong, in fact I know so many people who are successful and not working in the field that they majored in, or they tried working in that specific field, and it didn’t suit them. On the flip side of this, I also know so many successful people who have not gone to college or gotten or completed their college education. The most important thing to remember is that whatever decision regarding to go to college or not is a decision you are making for yourself and not making a life choice in order to please someone else.

 We can’t always let people who think that they have our best interest at heart tell us what THEY think we need to do. Before I graduated high school, I knew for sure what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go to school and how I was going to make that happen. But life took some twists and turns and suddenly I had a not so supportive father TELL ME how I was going to pursue my college education, and where I was going to go. We were not on the same page. I was not going to let someone who wasn’t supportive of my life or extracurricular activities tell me how I was going to go after what I wanted.

I was completely aware of what the consequences and the magnitude of the anger and crippling destruction in an already fractured father/daughter relationship with an unstable foundation that standing up for myself was going to cause. I went in ready to detonate the bomb that indeed exploded once I voiced that in no uncertain terms that I was not falling in line with this plan. Now while life has taken me on a ride and I didn’t finish what teenage me wanted to accomplish, I have to say that I feel successful in my own right and I have  time to maybe finish what I started, but in the meantime, I don’t feel as though I have failed somehow because my path isn’t what I originally intended or what my friends have accomplished. I’ve had to work really hard to stop giving a shit about what society thinks I should be doing and where I should be at this point in my life. It’s not been an easy road and I still stumble. Throwing caution to the wind and doing what makes you happy is the only thing any of us should be focused on in this one life that we have. Our time here is too short to be caught up in trying to live up to expectations and standard that were set so long ago. We were all brought into this world to make our mark and break the mold and our paths are all different and there is NO ONE WAY TO DEFINE SUCCESS.

XOXO – Chanda

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