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When You Don’t Go To College

Corpus+Christi+College.+Photo+taken+under+the+Creative+Commons+3.0+License.
Corpus Christi College. Photo taken under the Creative Commons 3.0 License.

Corpus Christi College. Photo taken under the Creative Commons 3.0 License.

David Iliff

David Iliff

Corpus Christi College. Photo taken under the Creative Commons 3.0 License.

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College. That one step that everyone seems to take after they graduate from high school, it is what every senior talks about and supposedly the next step in the path of life. However, many students around the nation have decided to take a different route and hold off or not even go to college and jump right into the hectic atmosphere of real life.

While it may seem unusual, students not going to college is very common. While high school graduation rates have increased significantly, especially in minorities and economically disadvantaged families, college enrollment rates have been decreasing. Even with millions of dollars being pumped into scholarship and aid programs to help those who cannot afford college tuition, the US Census Bureau reports that students in a tough financial situation going straight to college is down 10% since 2008 and is now at only 46%.

Economics are a large factor; however, money isn’t the only reason students are not going to college. The Bureau of Labor found that out of the 3.1 million students who graduated high school in 2016, only 69.7% of those high school graduates were enrolled in college as of October 2016. Around 900,000 students did not enroll into college in 2016, or about 1 in every 3 students.

With so many students not going to college, what are they doing? Well, around 648,000 of them are now in the labor force. 72,000 are currently unemployed (there is an unemployment rate of 8% for those who do not go to college).

A significant amount of these high school graduates have decided to join the military. The military is an excellent way to gain experience and serve your country. You receive many benefits including a good starting salary and military discounts. However, if you are planning to go into the military after high school, be aware that the Pentagon reported that 23% of high school graduates failed the entrance exam to get into any of the branches of the military. Also, if you do make it in, you will have to be committed to a certain amount of time in the military, usually 4 or 5 years. In that time, the military will make many of your life decisions for you, tell you where to live, and might even send you into a war zone. Around 4,365 high school graduates who immediately joined the military were killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. These factors are not a problem for many as that is why they are signing up; however, if fighting is not your forte, perhaps the military is not the non-collegiate path you should take.

Besides the military, many graduates join the civilian labor force. Many continue to work their jobs that they got during in high school and seek to be higher up on the ladder of the company that employs them. While not as exciting as the military, this is the path that most graduates take besides not going to college. The problem with this option is that there will not be too much room to build upon your career since many of the higher up jobs in companies require college degrees. Many companies do provide training and education courses for some higher up jobs. This is a great path to take as it is usually paid for by the company and does not take as much time as college. Being a part of a company that seeks to make their employees better is a favorable way to live life without going to college.

For those of you who are not interested in working for a company nor willing to risk death, you could go and start your own business. This is a path that not many people take after high school; however, this is an interesting path because you are your own boss and you can do what makes you happy without going to college. The difficulties with starting a business are that in order to be successful, you have to be committed. This includes spending lots of time. You will also need some money to start your business. You could use the money from your college fund if you have one. This option is also one of the hardest for high school graduates as they have no safety net and risk losing it all. While this option requires hard work and has a great risk of failure, many have succeeded. Some of the most successful entrepreneurs have proven that you do not need as college degree to run a business. Steve Jobs dropped out of college. Henry Ford never went to college but was able to revolutionize America and the world. Ben Pasternak is the CEO of his tech company, Flogg. He is currently 16 years old and has moved to New York by himself and employs a 30-year-old as his Chief Employee that must do the things that Ben cannot. His company is estimated to be worth millions. If this is the path you are planning to take, know that the success that you can see will take hard work.

If you are not going to college, there are many paths that you can take. No matter what path you take, you are not the only one who is going out into the real world without the help of a college degree. Whatever you do, good luck!

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “When You Don’t Go To College”

  1. Jessica Cox on May 16th, 2017 12:07 pm

    I would love to take a gap year.

    [Reply]

  2. Luke Negley on May 16th, 2017 12:08 pm

    Great to have a story about people who chose a different path!

    [Reply]

  3. Ryn Wayman on May 16th, 2017 12:11 pm

    It’s cool to see that college isn’t the only option

    [Reply]

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When You Don’t Go To College