When I was in high school, I assumed that each of my classmates would go to college. I only had sixty-five students in my graduating class, and only about half would go straight to college. Why did I think college was the only option? Both my parents graduated from college, and the only question my siblings and I wondered about was which college we would attend. The thought of not going to college never entered my mind.
One of my friends went into the Navy. At the time, I thought he chose to go into the military because his grades weren’t good enough to attend college. I was a cocky eighteen-year-old, and I assumed he would go to college if he could. Other students chose to work after college or join humanitarian organizations. I didn’t understand it.
Looking back now, I realize that I was totally wrong. My basic assumptions about education were way off. My friends who joined the military, got jobs, or volunteered with humanitarian organizations gained life experiences and education that I will never possess. I don’t know if they went to college later or not. What I do know now is that college is not a requirement for success.
In 2008, Robert Perry reminded us the “the U.S. Department of Labor reports that the country needs more graduates if we are to keep up with, let alone lead, other nations in the global economy” (625). He also said that by 2012 “there will be three million more jobs requiring bachelor’s degrees and not enough college graduates to fill them” (625). Did we graduate enough students to fill these needs last year? Maybe. (I’m guessing we didn’t.) Whatever ended up being true, the answer is not to force everyone to go to college. College isn’t for everyone, and there are myriad ways to live life honorably without attending college. In my opinion, our culture puts too much value on money, graduates, and jobs. We ought to spend more time thinking about the benefits of culture, community, and peace.