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!
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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.