Students are too often coerced into believing college is their only post-secondary option (Opinion)

While many might think of college as an expectation, it should truly be a personal choice made by students without societal, familial, or social pressure


Brooks Upham

The counseling office is a place where students often make major decisions regarding their future. However, many students wonder if college is truly for them.

As seniors are growing increasingly excited to graduate, the majority of them are making difficult decisions about college, working, whether or not to take a gap year, and other options for their near future. They are wondering if heading off to a university, either in-state or out-of-state, is best for them or if maybe they want to go a different path.

There is a lot of societal pressure that comes along with current seniors and that important decision. College has been built up as an expectation, but I personally believe college is a decision best left to the individual, not the pressures surrounding them.

A lot of students pursue college because of overwhelming insistence from friends, families, and their educational environment. These various groups want students to be successful, and they may be forcing (directly or indirectly) an immense amount of pressure on high school students. Many assume that the college pathway is the only place for them after high school, but this simply is not the case.

Family members, friends, teachers, and others hold more control than they think over students’ perceptions. When all seniors want to do is make those they know proud, comments made by involved adults can twist their perception of the future. It can make them question their self worth if they choose not to go to college and instead work on another, equally important aspect of their life.

Some people think that college is a part of life everyone needs to go through. This may have been true in the past, but we need to work on breaking down the traditional societal pressures that are outdated and hurtful. 

Although not everyone believes college is something you have to do, many tend to judge others who think this way — who believe that college isn’t something that needs to happen in a young adult’s immediate future.

And truly, it isn’t. There are a million other pathways that are frowned upon for absolutely no reason. Students can be successful in whatever they choose despite the negative stereotypes or generalizations associated with not going to college.

College or university is something that a person should decide to pursue on their own, not feel like they have to. It’s often expensive and stressful, and job opportunities afterwards are left up to chance; why are we forcing people to attend college if they know it’s not right for them at that moment?

If a student is going to college, they should go because they want to and know it’s something they can continue to be committed to, not because it’s the only option they felt they had. And if someone doesn’t want to go because they know that it’s not right for them, it’s unfair for that individual to be forcefully encouraged to attend due to the societal and family disappointment that comes with choosing a different future for themselves.

I think that college is a path in life that should be chosen. Those who choose otherwise should not be shamed, pressured, nor talked down to. Others shouldn’t judge someone simply because that person is not interested in doing the exact same thing as those around them.

Everyone has their own outlook on what they want to do with their life, whether that be working, college, trade school, doing something online, building a business, or something else.

People are different, and they have different needs in regards to their future. That should be respected and normalized.