Opinion: College isn’t the only path forward

As a sophomore, I always hear those around me discussing how they want to go to college and how it’s the best path to success. While I do want to go to college and eventually enroll in medical school, it’s important to note that going to college isn’t the only way to be successful.

Our school has a diverse range of people from different backgrounds who have families with different incomes. People tend to make assumptions that anyone who doesn’t go to college won’t be successful in life or are too poor to attend. That’s not always the case since some people just do not feel that it is right for them to go. 

Everyone has different reasons for wanting to go to college, whether it is to prepare for their intended career, to be seen as smart by going to a certain college or because of expectations from other people. While college is necessary for specific jobs in fields like medicine, engineering and teaching, many fields don’t require degrees from four-year universities. Furthermore, there are plenty of good jobs that require no degree: from law enforcement to electricians, these jobs can be completed without a degree.

Getting a degree can be important for getting the job you want to pursue in life but there are other ways to gain one. Certification programs and career center classes offer short-term programs that allow you to gain mastery over a certain skill. Plenty of jobs from web developers to construction can be obtained through certification programs. These programs and career center classes can help you get a taste of different jobs that you may be interested in.

Vocational and trade schools are other places to go for further education. Going to college can be expensive even with loans and scholarships, but trade schools can allow you to obtain a higher education at a significantly reduced price. College can also take up a lot of time, and balancing a job while in school can increase the amount of time it will take to get that degree. Trade schools can allow you to complete exactly what you want and enter the workforce faster than college would.

Finances can also play a huge role in considering whether or not college is right for you. The average tuition for an public in-state college in 2021-2022 is $10,338, and the average tuition for an public out-of-state college is $22,698. While loans and scholarships can help cover a great amount of tuition fees, they can put you into debt before you’ve even started your career.

Overall, not everyone needs to go to college because some jobs do not require a degree in certain fields — there are always alternatives to college, which are always better financial decisions. Whenever you’re thinking about applying for a college, just think about whether or not it’s the right decision for you.