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10 Smart Signs School May Not Be for You

People often go to school with the mindset that it’s something they’re required to do. Since the time we first learned the alphabet and how to count, it’s been the social norm to pursue a degree, get a job, get married, have kids, etc. But, what does it all mean in the end? We celebrate graduations because they mark an important milestone —the end that signifies the start of something new. So, we grab that bottle of champagne and share it with close friends and loved ones. We say our cheers, our wishes, and hopes that the future will be everything we want it to be. It’s the perfect Kodak moment when you’re dressed and posed professionally in your graduation gown, holding that diploma in your hand.

But, what does it mean to be successful? And more importantly, does your mental health agree with that image of success? Whether you’re a high school student or a college graduate wondering whether or not to pursue more schooling, you’ve probably heard it a million times: that uncertainty is okay, but to push forward anyway. However, have we truly taken the time to question the system that makes it all worth it in the end to go through? Or, are we only tied down to these expectations out of fear and propaganda?

Advertisements project life as seemingly promising and glamorous when a college degree is earned. But, can those publications stand up to reality and sustain? And how long can parents, administrators, and advisors tell us that we’ll be okay so long as we hide behind perfect test scores, polished resumes, and immerse ourselves within extracurricular activities before those expectations do the breaking? The reality is that school isn’t built upon the foundation of promise. For some people who are more scholarly inclined, school is where they thrive and feel like they belong. But, what about those who feel reluctant to follow the same path? Psych2Go shares with you 10 signs school may not be for you:

1. You’re a night owl.

Research studies led by clinical assistant professor Jack Peltz at the University of Rochester Medical Center show that teenagers who start school before 8:30 A.M. have a greater risk of developing anxiety and depression. Peltz states, “Our findings show that earlier school start times seem to put more pressure on the sleep process and increase mental health symptoms, while later school start times appear to be a strong protective factor for teens.” Roughly 90% of high school students get inadequate sleep on school nights that barely meets the requirement of 8-10 hours essential for healthy functioning. The study also found that even students with good sleeping habits showed higher symptoms of anxiety and depression when they started school at earlier times.

Although this study pertains to high school students, the same can be applied to college. While it may be easier to dodge the bullet of 8 A.M. classes because you’re allowed to make your schedule, sometimes your schedule isn’t so flexible when you incorporate your work schedule, internships, or sometimes simply the fact that the required course you need to take in order to graduate doesn’t have any other available opening other than 8 A.M. It’s often also expected of college students to pull all-nighters during exam week.

While those times supposedly help students learn how to manage time better and develop resilience to challenges, the structure of exam schedules takes such a large toll on students’ health when it gets in the way of proficient sleep. When these issues haven’t been resolved, suicide remains the second leading cause of death for college students since the 1950s. It is also important to note that school enrollment increased between 1997 and 2007, and the number of suicide has risen to 14% since then.

2. The job market is ever-changing and the education system is failing to keep up with it.

There are jobs that exist today that weren’t available in our parents’ generation. Thanks to the social media platform, there is a higher demand for online marketing, writers, graphic designers, and computer programmers. It is technology, creativity, and entertainment that is currently driving the economy today. But, with the job market drastically changing, the education system is failing to catch up with it. While the skills that are being taught right now are basic and essential, they aren’t enough alone for jobs that have a demand for newer skills that pertain to this day and age.

3. College has become increasingly difficult for the middle class to afford.

It’s hard to earn a college degree with a middle class wage, but it’s often advertised that you’ll need a college degree to also earn at least a decent middle class wage. People from the lower class often want to enroll in school because they have a desire to climb the social ladder for a better life, but are often unable to afford education expenses. As a result, the financial problems are only magnified. In addition to the challenge of being able to pay your way through college, many people end up in debt from student loans. Approximately 44 million Americans experience student loan debt and reports have shown that there is $1.45 trillion of student loan debt the nation currently sits in as a whole. Basically, if you decide to go to school, be prepared to pay back $351 on a monthly basis.

4. You have a big idea and the time you spend in school might not be able to foster it.

Here’s a fun fact: 14 of the world’s most successful billionaires didn’t earn a college degree. They were passionate about entrepreneurship and decided school wasn’t where they needed to be to make the vision they had for the world a reality. Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, dropped out during his sophomore year at Harvard. He founded Facebook in 2004 and ever since it went public in 2012, it is now worth over $200 billion. Hiroshi Yamauchi, the third president of Nintendo, also didn’t earn a college degree. Yamauchi dropped out of Waseda University to take over his family business of Nintendo that his grandfather founded in 1989.

Although these people who are prominently known across the world for their success, there is no doubt that they faced tremendous struggles and many failures before making the headlines. The point, however, lies in the idea that it’s okay to sometimes walk away from a system that may not nurture the big ideas you have. If the plan you have to make your dreams come true doesn’t involve school, it certainly does not make you any less of a person. In fact, it’s quite noble to be able to stand up to something that you believe will not help you in the long run. It takes guts to go after what you really want, especially if it goes against the status quo.

5. What you wish to pursue doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, 63% of new jobs between now and 2020 won’t require a college degree. Forbes was also able to identify 20 well-paying jobs that don’t require a Bachelor’s degree. Some of these jobs include: construction supervisors ($59,150), electricians ($49,320), and insurance sales agents ($47,450). In addition, for individuals who are hands-on learners and excel at using sensory information, some of these existing jobs are a great fit for them, because they don’t involve exploring abstract ideas or theories school often reinforces.

6. College is an expensive dream world that prepares us very little for the real world.

Starting at a young age, it has been conditioned and taught that we must excel and look good on paper in order to succeed. But, all that does is reinforce perfectionistic tendencies, and studies have shown that striving for perfection is actually detrimental to one’s well-being. We are given the illusion that gold stars and straight A’s will ensure that we are doing everything right, and when we receive anything less, we are automatically seen as failures.

Reality doesn’t work that way, though. Someone won’t always be there to recognize and acknowledge your hard work, and failure is actually a large aspect of life. This is why when college graduates can’t land their desired dream job right away, it hits them like a ton of bricks. Resilience wasn’t learned during the time they spent polishing their resumes.

7. The job market looks bleak and a college degree doesn’t necessarily promise you more career opportunities.

According to a study done by Accenture, a consulting firm, 84% of college graduates in 2014 expected to find jobs related to their field of study. However, only 67% of those graduates were able to land their anticipated jobs. School is an institution created with the intent to help people learn how to develop important skills, such as problem-solving and time management that will help them take responsibilities more readily.

But, all of the abstract theories and ideas people spend time reading about in school don’t hold any meaning until they are applied in the real world. This is also why companies are often reluctant to hire people who are recent graduates —because they understand that skills aren’t built until you’re actually present in the field and doing it. And with jobs being scarce today, competition is intimidating when recent graduates are competing with others who have already been in the job industry longer.

8. Your degree might be obsolete by the time you graduate.

The career you wish to pursue in the future may no longer exist by the time graduation rolls around. Referring back to point #2, this is because media and technology have taken over and may have replaced old jobs with new ones. It’s important to weigh the possibility of a desired career that may be on the verge of extinction because it hasn’t found a way to sustain with its contenders yet. That’s not to say said career may not be important again in the future —but now may not be the wisest time to pursue more schooling for it.

9. Wanting and choosing the “safe” route doesn’t actually eliminate the element of risk and harsh realities.

Even jobs that are in-demand these days don’t guarantee a safety net. Professions in the medical field and academia are facing more challenges today thanks to the economy. Doctors and nurses are getting paid less because of the way government is regulating the healthcare system and many teachers are getting laid off due to budget shortages.

Everyone’s scrambling for the stability we all crave and hope to carve out for the future, but it doesn’t exist for many these days. In fact, it’s an ongoing privilege that is far out of reach. This is especially true for millennials, who make up the most underpaid and underemployed generation, which is why so many move back in with their parents.

10. You’re a go-getter and have always wanted to educate yourself the way you want to at your own pace, not on anyone else’s watch.

The thing about not choosing school is that you get to create the agenda you want to go by to build the skills you wish to obtain. Going to school and choosing one major may limit what you actually want to learn. This is why it was especially difficult for me to make up my mind when I attended college. I had too many interests —too many things I cared about —to focus on and choose just one field of study.

But if you decide not to go to college, so many doors actually open for you, because you can dedicate your time to explore different options that work for you. You can do volunteer work in your field of interest. This can also help you determine whether or not you’ll enjoy the career you want to pursue by getting first-hand experience. You can attend workshops, too, as well as use many free or inexpensive platforms and online programs, such as YouTube, to build the vast array of skills that you can add to your portfolio that many companies value over a high GPA. And the best part is that you can work and learn at your own pace.

Do you think school is for you? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!

 

References:

A Look at the Shocking Student Loan Debt Statistics for 2017. (2017, September 13). Retrieved October 25, 2017.

Cost of College Degree in U.S. has Increased 1,120 Percent in 30 Years, Report Says. (2012, August 15). HuffPost. Retrieved October 25, 2017.

Iarovici, D. (2015, July 27). Perspectives on College Student Suicide. Psychiatric Times. Retrieved October 25, 2017.

Kim, E. (2014, September 7). 14 Tech Billionaires Who Never Got Their College Degree. Business Insider. Retrieved October 25, 2017.

Penzo, L. (2017). 4 Smart Reasons Why College Isn’t for Everyone. Retrieved October 25, 2017.

Price, M. (2017, September 6). 7 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Go to College and 4 Things to Do Instead. HuffPost. Retrieved October 25, 2017.

University of Rochester Medical Center. (2017, October 5). Earlier school start times may increase risk of adolescent depression and anxiety. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2017.

Weissmann, J. (2012, March 29). Why Do So Many Americans Drop Out of College? The Atlantic. Retrieved October 25, 2017.

Catherine Huang
Catherine Huang graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BA in English. She has a penchant for storytelling, ramen, and psychology. Catherine is a writer for Psych2Go and looks forward to reaching out to its growing community, hoping to encourage others to tap into self-examination and confront life's challenges head on with the most difficult questions.

2 Comments

  1. Hi! This is a very interesting topic to discuss as it’s extremely relevant at the moment with such strong competition for limited employability. It’s also a very engaging article because you have backed up all of your points with strong evidence and statistics. However, there were a few issues regarding points that are problematic and points that could be developed even further.
    -Point 1 is very well researched, however it is problematic because it is also important to notice that studies have found that some of the most academecally driven people (and also some of the most intellegent) are actually night owls, and that their nocturnal sleeping patterns is actually beneficial to coping with modern timetables.
    -In point 2, you have made an interesting point about the need for newer skills to be taught due to our ever-changing society. However, you have not adressed what these newer skills actually are, and so the point could be expanded on further by adressing this. You do mention that technology, creativity and entertainment are factors driving our society now, but humans, for a long time, have sought better technology, creative ideas/inventions and entertainment is no different (the history of theatre and the invention of the television, for example). So overall, explaining what skills young people need nowadays will help to develop this point.
    -Point 3 does well to adress the middle class. But I think that it is also worth mentioning young adults who come from lower class backgrounds who aim to use their degree in order to earn a middle class wage in the future. Lots of young adults from lower class backgrounds and/or those suffering in poverty are often unable to afford a college degree, and therefore, the issue of money for these individuals is magnified, more so than those from middle class backgrounds.
    -The arguments (particularly the title) for point 6 unfortunately came across as a little generalistic. It is true that some courses are vague and abstract, lacking in practical skills (I sometimes think that my Literature degree is just a very expensive book-club), but on the other hand, some courses do teach more practical skills, scientific or teaching degrees for example. Unfortunately, there is also the issue that whilst some other courses do not teach practical skills, they are still needed as a requirement for certain jobs, for example an english degree may be needed for publishing.
    -In point 10, I think it’s also good to mention, for those who are currently in college (and possibly in a period of doubt about whether or not to continue), that it’s a good idea to get involved outside of education, such as volunteer work, or even something simple like running a serious blog, so that they don’t have to rely on their degree and they have other things on their cv to help them.

    I’m sorry that that was such a long list, but I hope that this has helped. Good job on the article!

    1. Hi Rosie, thanks so much for reading. In regards to the research you stated about academically driven people being night owls, I am wondering how beneficial it truly is though, especially to their health if they can’t get the adequate 8-10 hours of sleep. Being gifted and intelligent are positive traits, but even a large amount of sleep deprivation will begin to affect geniuses. School systems are so rigidly linear and hasn’t adapted enough to health needs. I don’t think we’ve prioritized health enough in general, just based on the flawed healthcare systems and jobs that force people to work over time often, too.

      In regards to point 2, I mention technology, creativity, and entertainment being some examples, but I leave them open without getting too specific, because I want to be able to speak to readers as a whole, rather than just focus on readers who may or may not care about the entertainment industry, for example. It was my intention to bring these examples forward to allow readers to explore different options and interests that may pertain to them, but are not limited.

      You brought up excellent points in regards to point 3 and 10, and I developed them further. Thanks so much!

      And in regards to point 6, I wrote it based on my own personal experiences after graduating from college two years ago. I’ve also read a coming of age memoir that explored the same issue. Yes, I do think that some jobs need a degree, and I definitely did not write this article to discourage people from pursuing an education to reach the dreams and goals they want to obtain that do require a degree. But, I am simply allowing people who always felt a little out of place in school to feel validated. In regards to your thoughts on needing an English degree for publishing, I actually know a couple of people in real life who did not have an English degree and still got their foot in the door in that competitive field based on networking and looking into helpful programs that trained them for certification.

      There’s definitely ways and loopholes. I think we just don’t give those loopholes enough credit. As much as I’ve wanted to believe school can be a safety net and a way to bring a bright future to everyone all the years I’ve attended it, there are just so many flaws that I can’t unsee. I guess I feel passionate towards them, too, because at one point, I thought I wanted to teach, but quit my internship because it felt tremendously stifling.

      Thank you for your in-depth analysis and feedback, I appreciate it. I hope you have a great day!

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