Live Through This

Skipping School

College isn’t for everyone.

Illustration by Dylan

I tried going to college directly after high school, and I hated it. It was a small liberal arts college on the East Coast. Most of the students had wealthy parents whose monthly stipends funded weekly binge-drinking experiments, no one really cared about grades as they didn’t have to depend on scholarships to stay there, and none of my classes were interesting or challenging. I had visited some older friends at school a year before, and I thought all campuses were the same: late-night vending machine raids, fun roommates, and nonstop parties that spontaneously occur in the absence of parental supervision.

My particular school featured terrible cafeteria food, a stuck-up roommate who skipped classes to make mosaics out of empty beer cans, and an RA who materialized out of nowhere to shut us down when more than three people congregated because “IT’S A QUIET STUDY DORM YOU GUYS, OK?” I hated my major: a true child of the ’90s, I thought fashion design was going to teach me how to basically become Todd Oldham and was utterly surprised by the amount of business classes were required during the first semester. I took an English class for respite, only to have the young, floppy-haired professor insist that everything we were reading was a metaphor for the drugs I’m pretty sure he was taking. (At least I read Finnegans Wake.) I had no idea what I was doing there, and the entire situation was making me miserable. So, after my freshman year was over, I dropped out. I didn’t even have to think about it: I knew leaving a place that made me feel awful would make me feel better.

I was right. But my family still freaked out.

College is often the only viable option we’re given for a successful life after high school, and it can be a great tool if you know how to use it. Some people make lasting connections in college, or pick up valuable skills (face it: you’re not going to learn the intricacies of biophysics at your local coffee shop). It can be a place of great personal change and access to people who can guide you toward projects you’ve always dreamed of completing. It can be revolutionary.

It can also be a place where people get drunk and vomit on you a lot, where you are buried under a mountain of homework so vast it takes you four months to get out from under, and where the only exposure you have to vegetables is in the form of pizza toppings.

And maybe you already know exactly what you want to do with your life and are making the connections and learning the skills you’ll need to get there, and that plan doesn’t require you attend yet another learning institution. The structure and discipline of college can be useful for those who think of it as a step towards a life you otherwise wouldn’t be able to lead, but college might not be necessary for everyone. It might mean putting off for four years what you know you need to do to realize your dream life.

There are a lot of reasons you may not want to go to college. But what’s going to happen to the friendships you’ve so carefully cultivated when everyone leaves and you don’t have the experience of school in common anymore? What will people think? Are you destined to be a lonely cat lady within five years? These are some things I wish I had known when I decided to leave college.

1. People will never stop asking you if you’re eventually going to go to college.

And unless you’re clairvoyant, you will never be able to answer this question, which doesn’t stop people from asking it all the time. No matter what you’re deciding to do with your life, your answer will never seem good enough for some people. You have to learn to mentally flip the bird to them as you respond with something light and pithy, like, “Oh, who knows! Maybe one day.” These are the same people that will eventually plague your life with questions like, “When are you going to get married?” or “Don’t you want to have a baby?” What they’re really asking is, “So where exactly do you fit into this framework of social acceptance that I have bought into?” They are judging you by their own standards, and you shouldn’t be made to feel inferior as a result of not conforming to them. Even with a college degree, you’ll never know how things are going to turn out for you. Legions of songs about the long and winding road that is life exist for this very reason.

2. The first job you get after high school might not be awesome.

A lot of people go to college for job security—they think having a degree will insulate them from unemployment, or guarantee some sort of comfort in life. Anyone paying attention to the current economic climate in the U.S. knows that’s not true. Even with a bachelor’s degree, you could still end up working at a fast food restaurant. When I moved from my little town in New York to San Francisco the summer after leaving school, my grandmother asked why I’d go all the way across country just to be a barista. I told her that if I’m going to pour coffee, I want to do it in an interesting place. I’ve had so many jobs in so many places that my resumé reads like I was on the run from the law for most of my 20s. I worked in a TON of restaurants, bookstores and coffee shops. I stumbled into the office of an optometrist and a debt collector for a credit card company, and took countless temp jobs doing things like medical coding and customer service. Most of the time I worked at least two jobs simultaneously to make ends meet. None of them were awesome, and the majority of them made me entertain thoughts of murder at least three times per day. If your job sucks, it’s helpful to balance it out with the fun things you do outside of work. Can you afford to move to a different town or city? Maybe you go thrifting once a week? Are there free shows where you can see good bands anywhere nearby? Perhaps you take yourself to the art house movie theater every Saturday? You can still live a life and have great experiences even if you’re working for minimum wage, but…

3. You may have to live with a lot of other people in the same situation.

If you’re supporting yourself and earning minimum wage, you’re probably going to have roommates. It could be awesome—they’ll probably come with their own set of friends, which would immediately increase your social circle, especially if you move to a new town. It’s fun to have people around to watch TV with, or help you eat the pizza you ordered for dinner. It could also suck—they might have boyfriends or girlfriends that sleep in your house for weeks, eat all of your food, and never pay rent or bills. They may leave dishes in the sink for a while, or never think of cleaning the bathroom. It’s a crappy rite of passage, but take solace in the fact that even your friends at college have to live with people they can’t stand.

4. Your friendships may change.
Not going to college means you’re not going to have a lot of the same experiences as your friends for a while. But you could go to the same school as your friends and live in the same dorm and STILL have wildly different experiences. Not going to college doesn’t have to mean the end of your relationships, but it may mean you need to find a new way to navigate them, or be more intentional about communicating. Everyone will more than likely have horrible dating experiences, dilapidated apartments, and morally demeaning jobs for years to come—you’ll find a way to bridge the gap even if you’re not concerned with your GPA.

5. Your family may freak out.
Going to college means your parents finally get a break from the nonstop extravaganza that was managing your life for the past 18 years. When you tell them that you don’t want to go to college, it immediately translates to cartoonish dollar-sign eyes and extended chaos for them. If you’re going to skip college, try to alleviate some of the fallout by having a plan. Are you going to live with your parents for six months while working, saving money and looking for a roommate? Tell them that. Are you going to move into a neighborhood with dirty mattresses strewn about the street like urban tumbleweeds, no working streetlights, and a police-enforced curfew just because you found an affordable place to live? Make them feel better by telling them about the nice elderly woman who lives across the hall, or that you’re saving enough money to take a cab directly to and from work to your house. They’ll never stop worrying about you, but they probably want to stop paying for you now—it’s part of the secret contract they signed when you were born.

6. You’ll need to be self-motivated.
I always found ways to focus on things that were interesting to me as a way to mitigate my dreams versus my reality. Even though I wasn’t interested in learning about fashion design in a clinical, academic way, I still sewed my own clothes and paid attention to the way different designers got their start in the business. I’ve always loved writing, so I kept a diary, took out library books about getting published, and practiced different writing styles. Even if you change your mind about what you want to do with your life every year, you need to have some discipline. It’s really easy to get mired down in the day-to-day of it all and forget that you have passions worth pursuing. Be intentional about what you want and do anything you can to keep it going. There’s no such thing as a small step because you never know how things could turn out.

7. You’re going to be fine.
Even though your family or well-meaning others might make you feel otherwise, skipping college isn’t actually the end of the world. You can still live well, support yourself, travel, and generally enjoy life if you don’t go. You may even decide to go back later, once you’re sure of what you want to accomplish there. I went back 12 years after I left and loved it, so much so that I’m going to pursue a PhD in gender studies. For most people, the end of high school means the beginning of college. For some, it means a chance to take their lives in a totally new direction. But, like most experiences, college is so much more awesome when you actually want to be there. ♦

59 Comments

  • rosiesayrelax April 25th, 2012 3:14 PM

    Could this magazine be any awesomer. Seriously. It’s like you’re telepathic. I totally don’t know what I’m doing with my life, and somehow, Rookie gives me the answers.
    Thank you. And I don’t even mean it sarcastically, which is a big deal. for me.

    luvs ya guys

    http://rosiesayrelax.blogspot.co.uk/

    • gal April 25th, 2012 4:51 PM

      I feel the exact same way.I can relate to everything Rookie writes about which I guess is the point because it’s a site for girls of a certain age but I sometimes feel you guys are writing just for me!

  • Tyknos93 April 25th, 2012 3:26 PM

    I’m loving all of the focus on College recently. May I recommend taking a gap year as well? Preferably before starting college full time. It put alot in perspective and if you feel burnt out after high school it could be the necessary break you need before deciding whether or not to start back.

    I did a “gap” semester because I didn’t really feel committed to going back to school. It was wonderful and I ended up going back.

    Volunteer, get a small job, try and find internships, but DON’T let yourself sit idle. Don’t abuse your relationships either.

    http://blazoningpens.blogspot.com/

  • darksideoftherainbow April 25th, 2012 3:30 PM

    you are so amazingly and totally right about this. college is NOT for everyone. i went to college and although i hated a lot of my time there, i’m glad i went. i’m someone who needs some sort of direction bc i can’t make it on my own. also, i met people i would not have otherwise met and it helped me to see that there is much MUCH more that i can do with my life. lastly, coming from a really bad and terribly impoverished neighborhood, it gave me a lot to be proud of bc i was able to go to and graduate from a prestigious and desirable school. i needed those things in my life. HOWEVER, college is not the only place that you can get those things. i have a really hard time getting out there and making things happen and learning new things from new people, but there are people who are awesome at that. there are also people who can acheive what they what without getting any of that. we’re all different and need different things. whether or not you go to college does not have to be what defines you or your life.

  • EveyMarrie April 25th, 2012 3:38 PM

    Seriously, this is everything I need right now. I’m pursuing fashion design right now and well… yeah. After these two years, I may transfer to get a degree is Fashion merchandising or marketing so I can help run boutiques or whatever, but I’m still unsure about everything. UGGHHHHH

  • oriGINAlity95 April 25th, 2012 3:47 PM

    I LOVED THIS ARTICLE! Amazing piece! I’ve known that I wasn’t taking the college route for a while, I made that decision when I left public school. I’ve been home schooled since freshman year of high school. It’s not bee by the books, more unschooling… my parents have given me the chance to learn on my own, through real world experience, like part time jobs, volunteering, helping with our family business, writing for a local paper and online… And even when I tell people all the amazingly awesome things I’ve been able to do and am doing because of the way I’m learning the college question drives me BONKERS! I used to attempt to explain my reasoning but now I’ve learned to just say, “I may go later, you never know!” Just to shut people up!

    • danielleh April 25th, 2012 8:07 PM

      It sounds like you are already doing AMAZING things! I wish people placed more of a premium on what they were learning instead of how they are learning it. Stay strong!

      • oriGINAlity95 April 26th, 2012 9:08 AM

        Thanks! I totally agree!

  • MissKnowItAll April 25th, 2012 3:54 PM

    Thank you for putting this out there. Any other magazine would make you feel like a total loser but not you guys. I’m gonna graduate from high school in a few years. But there are some things I’m not very sure about. I want to become a graphic designer when I grow up. Whenever I mention this to my parents or my teachers they say I need to be more realistic. I’m very persistent on this subject and I hope to become this one day. The problem is that I know there’s no way I can go into that profession without going through all those years of high school. I’m a pretty good student, but I don’t want to go through 5 more years of school after I graduate. Another thing that pisses me off is that everyone ties my tiny decisions to my future college plans. I failed one of my chemistry tests and my teacher yelled at me and told me I couldn’t go to college if I failed one more of his tests. I just don’t get what the hell they’re talking about.
    So my point? While college is a great way to go. I just don’t know if it’s for me yet.

    • danielleh April 25th, 2012 8:10 PM

      For something like graphic design, you may be able to do an apprenticeship or something. Like, find a working graphic designer, and see if you can just hang out and see what they’re days are like for a bit. You still have time, so that could give you some valuable info about whether or not college would help you out. Also, no one in my entire life has ever cared about my high school grades, so please disregard your chemistry teacher.

  • ravenflamingo April 25th, 2012 4:10 PM

    THANK YOU! I’ve been so worried lately about what I’m going to do after high school. Thank you for validating options that don’t involve college.

    http://ravenflamingo.tumblr.com

  • shelley April 25th, 2012 4:22 PM

    thank you for this. Rookie is amazing

    http://www.shelleycatcat.tumblr.com

  • kzspygv April 25th, 2012 4:26 PM

    Love this advice. I did the same = pressured into applying for college even though I had no idea what I wanted to do and then dropped out after one year.

    I moved out, worked a string of cool and not-so-cool (and some pretty terrible) jobs, scored an internship with a magazine ON MY OWN (see, college isn’t even the only way to get internships) took night classes, and I just returned to a new university last year (after a 9 year break!) knowing exactly what I want to study AND supplementing my financial aid as a freelance writer instead of waiting tables.

    If you want to go to school, but don’t really know what you want to do, I HIGHLY recommend community college. It’s a low-cost way to try out some things and get your general ed. out of the way so you can transfer quickly once you decide what you want to study.

    • danielleh April 25th, 2012 8:11 PM

      YES, to all of this comment. Community college is a great option – you can try on lots of different things for far less than you’d ever pay elsewhere. You are wise, young Padawan.

  • loomfruit April 25th, 2012 4:27 PM

    what a great article.
    everyone should consider taking a gap year if they’re not exactly sure what they want yet. i rushed off to college right after high school because it seemed like my only option, of course i ended up withdrawing after the first semester.
    at the time it felt like everyone had something to say about it, i.e. “what are you doing with your life?” and “when are you going back to school?”. our society has this negative connotation associated with dropping out of school, as if it guarantees failure when really it is just a step in a different direction.
    however, i have no regrets about taking time off, i got to travel, live in new cities, work different types of jobs, meet new people and actually decide what it is that i want to pursue and now that i have i’m finally planning to finish my studies this fall and am actually looking forward to going back.
    and honestly, if you’re going to be paying tuition you really should be enjoying yourself.

  • Rose April 25th, 2012 4:28 PM

    I am so happy rookie addressed this!!!!

    I decided not to go to art school, and moved out of my parents house 7 months ago.

    I have been supporting myself entirely through my crafts/art!

    College is not the only answer.

    Here are some blog posts I wrote on the topic

    http://rosebeerhorst.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/arts-crafts/

    http://rosebeerhorst.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/real-job/

    http://rosebeerhorst.wordpress.com/2011/04/08/feel-the-possibility/

    Rookie you always amaze me <3

    • Pashupati April 25th, 2012 6:54 PM

      Wow. This might proves helpful. The article in itself was as well.
      When I was 14 or so I wanted to do a sewing or jewelry making apprenticeship (which could have been followed by other formations to have more possibilities) and the answer was a big NO, go to high school, why would you do that. I’ve been strongly discouraged both from my mother and school and didn’t know I could legally join that if both refused. Then I wanted to go to scientific session and it was yet another NO, you’re made for literature. Then my grades dropped and they wanted to send me in a secretarial apprenticeship “because there are lots of girls and you are shy [and we perceive you as a girl]” :o
      Now that I’ve been unschooled and dealt with what is (cis)sexism and general assholeness from people in computing fields which I wanted to work in as well… I’m too discouraged to finish scientific section in case I can’t take remedial art courses (long story.) and my home environment is too stressing. I just really like sewing and related things and well, I’m thinking of joining an apprenticeship in it or a similar fields plus some other late-night small jobs and be able to leave home!
      This comment and the article and every other just makes me understand that there is more than two or three ways to live your life and that if I ever want to go to art school or anything I can do it later in life. Still, I will try to get my baccalauréat anyway while searching an apprenticeship boss and all.
      Thanks for making me feel better about this! Best wishes! <3
      Though I'll still investigate other ways 'n stuffs.

    • 062131 April 25th, 2012 10:09 PM

      Wow, THANK YOU for those blog posts. Reading what you wrote (and some of the comments) made me really happy right now.
      You seem like an awesome person who has some experience with this, I’m definitely reading more of your blog when I can.

  • boofie April 25th, 2012 4:28 PM

    Thank you SO much for this. You have no idea how much I needed to read this.
    Love & Light.

  • Arden April 25th, 2012 4:31 PM

    I seriously needed this article right now. I just dropped out of college this semester and packed all of my stuff up to move to Portland, OR all by myself. I’ve had so much trouble coping with this decision, trying to make friends, getting a job, and comforting my confused parents, friends, and boyfriend. It has been so tough, but deep down, I know this was the right path for me personally, and I have been so happy just being myself in a city I love. Thank you, Rookie, for the reassurance.

  • KinuKinu April 25th, 2012 4:36 PM

    I’m no where near starting college.I am afraid of the tests(even though I do good on tests now,I feel like college is a whole different level)and afraid I won’t be able to stand up to the pressure of doing well.I don’t know…..I want to go….but I don’t know
    #cantarticulatethoughtswellontheinternet

  • ericaiserica April 25th, 2012 4:38 PM

    good article. i’m a senior in high school who’s already been accepted to a college (that i thought I would love for its nontraditional academic structure) early decision but i’ve been worrying that i’ll end up not liking it (well, college in general) and drop out. what do people think about doing a gap year? i’m conflicted because on one hand I feel like the extra year could give me more time to mature a bit so i’d be better off once I start school, but then there’s also the possibility of it being even harder to get used to it after having been out of an academic setting for a year. though then again i’ve been homeschooled (online) for the past year and a half so I haven’t been in a traditional academic setting anyway.

    ughhhh. I don’t even know about college anymore.

    • hannachronism April 25th, 2012 8:23 PM

      It’s true that lots of people who take a year off don’t end up going to university (right away at least) but as long as you do something fulfilling with that year it’ll show you what you want from life. You might end up craving education like crazy, or you might be living a life that’s so great you want to keep at it. Just try to live independantly and work and travel during your year off, learn as much as you can and have as many experiences as you can, because that’s what you’d be doing in college anyway, but this way you’re not getting into debt and learning out of textbooks and getting graded on it. :)

    • anonymouse April 25th, 2012 9:50 PM

      You could take the year off, and ease yourself in with some classes at the community college, and when you find your direction, transfer to a more full-time Uni.

  • bbearcat April 25th, 2012 4:42 PM

    i’m fresh out of attempting two useless years of an english degree that i hated in a town that was totally wrong for me, and left with nothing to show for my pains apart from loads of debt. my life has completely changed since i moved back home and i’ve totally been struggling with EVERYTHING on this list… so this was exactly what i needed to see today.

    • Chelsea Jade April 25th, 2012 5:47 PM

      http://www.myspace.com/bearcatbearcat

      This also might help, bbearcat. My friend’s band who sing exclusively about and from the perspective of pandas. Some of whom struggle with species discrimination and employment options. ‘Red Panda Blues’.

      :)

  • Morgan April 25th, 2012 4:51 PM

    Thanks Rookie,
    For some reason people think that no college = no future. I went to work at a coffee shop straight out of HS while I pursued my dreams/career on the side and so many of my peers looked down on me for it, fast forward 4 years later and everyone who went away to college is now home, unemployed and desperately applying to work at my coffee shop.

    • Mags April 25th, 2012 10:28 PM

      Oh, karma is so sweet sometimes, isn’t it? :)

  • toizelle April 25th, 2012 5:08 PM

    Yes, yes. There needs to be continual conversation about smart alternatives to the conventional post-high school route. I’m about to graduate from a community college and I’m all set up to go to a four-year in the fall, but it’s frustrating because I don’t actually know what I want to do with my life. Yet I’m putting myself into debt to get a piece of paper that may or may not help me get a job post-college. guh guh guh. I enjoy college and I want to go, but I don’t agree with it being the one and only option for everyone. Especially with the recession and continually rising cost of college, there needs to more articles like this offering suggestions for alternatives. Yeah. I enjoyed reading this.

    http://toizelle.blogspot.com

  • Molly Blues April 25th, 2012 5:09 PM

    OH MY, THIS TOTALLY MADE MY DAY! i’ve been dealing with so many inquiring looks when i’ve told my teachers/relatives i wasn’t going to take my entrance exams for college! then they just freaked out when i explained them i wanted to work at crappy places to save some money, get a vw camper and travel the world while cultivating myself. sometimes is still really hard to make people understand i just try to follow my intuition and what feels right to me (and worthy!). anyhow, this last month is being a never-ending torture in high school, i just want to finish and enjoy my freedom as an autodidact freethinker! thanks for reminding me to trust my inner wisdom :)

  • giov April 25th, 2012 5:13 PM

    I totally dropped out from college after a year of politics that just wasn’t doing anything for me. Also, I wanted out of freaking Italy. I took a gap year and then started uni again in Scotland. Where I’m currently avoiding my school books. College is not for me, I guess, but it’s for free and I’m going to Australia in two months for a year abroad from abroad. One day I will become the kind of person who has dreams and isn’t afraid to chase them, for now, back to pinterest.

  • Pacific Wandering April 25th, 2012 5:37 PM

    This article is so personally relevant at the moment, it’s crazy. I’m only a highschool junior, but the pressure for college has been a major burden upon my shoulders since I turned fifteen. Adults and other teens are constantly asking me things like, “So, where are you going to go to college?”, “What do you want to major in?”, “What profession would you like to pursue?” And the thing is, I CAN’T ANSWER ANY OF THESE! It’s exhausting having to repeatedly mumble the exact responses to these nosy individuals. I honestly have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with my life in the coming years. I’m not even sure I want to go to college. Maybe, culinary school would be a more appropriate avenue for my early adult life. (I think it’s time for me to stop my blabbing.) I thoroughly, enormously enjoyed reading this article. Reading your take, views and experiences alleviates some of my stress in feeling that I’m the only person in the entire universe drowning in uncertainty. Thanks for the great article! :)

    • danielleh April 25th, 2012 8:16 PM

      Culinary school would be such a fun option! And could totally help you get jobs (all over the woooooorld, even). No matter what, you are going to be okay, sister.

  • Chelsea Jade April 25th, 2012 5:41 PM

    It took me three years of university at two different institutions to realise that embarking on the final year wasn’t going to be worth it if it meant being as unhappy as I was. I had been achieving more in my chosen field outside of those hallowed halls than in them and truthfully, my negativity toward the experience actually started to feel disrespectful to those who actually wanted to be there. You can be productive outside of an institutional framework. You just have to believe in your own intelligence and be patient with your parents.

    P.s – This entire statement would be null and void if Hogwarts had a college counterpart.

  • RaineFall April 25th, 2012 5:49 PM

    I kinda get this. I have always wanted to go to university, to become a vet, but I promised myself if I didn’t get in after 2 years of trying, I would give up and try something else. However I don’t really want to do any other science course apart from veterinary, but because I am such a high achiever I know I will be pushed into doing a university course. Secretly I would like to do an art course as a back up option, but I know teachers and my family won’t consider it as an option.

    • hannachronism April 25th, 2012 8:15 PM

      the secret to happiness and satisfaction is doing what you want to do, not what you’re supposed to do. Your teachers and family aren’t the ones taking the courses, you are, so do whatever is the best fit for you. As long as it doesn’t hurt you or anyone else, it’s your life, live it!

    • Runaway April 27th, 2012 3:15 PM

      hannachronism is so right! And this comes from someone who has ALWAYS done what she was supposed to do. This year I’ll be done with my English Studies degree. It’s OK, but it’s not what I wanted. It has only led me to mild depression and dissatisfaction. I’ve recovered from depression but I’m still fighting with what the hell I’m going to do with my life after a few months, ’cause my degree isn’t going to take me nowhere…At least not to somewhere I want to be.

  • Skatapus April 25th, 2012 6:25 PM

    Great article, very interesting stuff (especially as my senior year approaches O.o). I was wondering, does anyone have any gap year travel stories?:) I’d love to see more of the world, but I’m concerned about money, safety in a foreign country, etc.

  • Moxx April 25th, 2012 7:42 PM

    “it’s part of the secret contract they signed when you were born”
    Honestly, I found this kind of tasteless. I mean, obviously it’s definitely not the other way around either (like your parents only live to help YOU forever and ever or anything like that), but I really don’t think this mentality of “once you turn 18, you pretty much get kicked out” is right.
    Ideally your parents are there to help you until you can make it on your own- be that 16 years old or 27 years old or whenever.
    I mean, they are taking care of you until you can do it yourself, just like you will take care of them when they can’t do it themselves anymore…
    There is no set age for the start/stop of dependence.

    • anonymouse April 25th, 2012 9:47 PM

      For some kids it is like that though. The parents just kick them out the curb, and tell them to make it on their own.

    • Mags April 25th, 2012 10:27 PM

      I think it was meant as tongue-in-cheek, but I agree with you. I always thought 18 was such an arbitrary number, such a random age to be forced to move out. Like, what makes you think I’m okay enough to live on my own just because I’m legally an “adult”? I felt like such a dork at 18. I would’ve hated it if my parents kicked me out. I’d like to think I wasn’t a total drain on them, or they didn’t think of me that way at least, and I always worked part-time and paid for all of my own stuff.

      It’s so hard to say what is right. It definitely is a good idea to teach kids independence, but telling them to leave as soon as they turn 18 seems kind of depressing, like you were counting the days until your kid turned 18 so you could tell them to get the hell out. It’s weird.

  • Ben April 25th, 2012 7:57 PM

    OMG! This is so relavent to me! I’m starting highschool next year already there’s this huge pressure for college! I went to the highschool for a pep rally thing and everyone was like “i’m going to this college” or “I went to this college, we want all of you to be preparred for college” and I’m like”I don’t want to go to college! I have a plan and a dream!” but I feel really embarressed telling people this because people don’t really accept that as a good decision or whatever, but I might to go to college later if I feel the need. I don’t think I’ll need to though because I’m really passionate and talented. I also want to move to another city. I plan to got to L.A!

    http://bensstylecorner.blogspot.com/

  • hannachronism April 25th, 2012 8:11 PM

    Rookie, why are you so perfect?
    I’m in Art school, the first semester was pretty good but from the first day I was questioning if I should be here, and I never stopped until I decided to drop out. I’m finishing out the year and then I’m going to take 6 months off to live at home and work and then I’m moving to the west coast to get my fashion merchandising diploma and start working in styling and costuming right away.
    I was a great student all through school but after a year of college, I’m just burnt out. I’m sick of paying to get frustrated and do idle tasks when I could be getting paid to do the same.
    But what I wanted to bring up, was that if you don’t want to go to the working world right away but you’re not an academic and you don’t want to spend a lot of money on an English degree or something, look into trades! Trade schools are usually cheaper, take less time and actually prepare you to get a job right away, and trades are in demand (especially in Alberta) and pay extremely well. They drilled this into me in high school and I didn’t listen , because I was the “smart girl” and I was better than that, I was going to university! But now I’ve said fuck degrees and am going to get a diploma instead at a fashion and beauty school and I’m much happier. Knowing that you’re getting job skills and directly preparing to be employable takes a lot of the stress and pressure off that my friends who are getting fine and liberal arts degrees deal with.

    • danielleh April 25th, 2012 8:18 PM

      High five to trade schools, FOR REAL.

  • 062131 April 25th, 2012 9:57 PM

    I LOVE YOU GUYS.
    I never had a problem with the idea of going to college right after high school. But after some people told me that it’s nice to take a year off and figure yourself out, get some experience, I thought it could be a good idea. So I told my mom. And she’s basically like “HAHA no.”
    Has anyone been through this? How can I convince her? (besides showing this amazing article?)

    (Just yesterday I thought “hm, maybe I should find something about this on the internet..” and then BAM, ROOKIE.)

  • taste test April 25th, 2012 10:51 PM

    this is such a good article. I have no idea what I want to do with myself, either, and I would love to take a year off and travel. I feel like in college I’ll be expected to start making Big Decisions right away and I am so far from ready to decide. I don’t know about spending half my time in college just looking for things I like, either. it seems like a waste. the thing is, I don’t have any reason a gap year would help me find my True Calling more than college. I also have no money of my own and my family won’t support it. as far as they are concerned, my options are to go to college and like it or to go to college against my will. :(

  • Jenn April 25th, 2012 11:38 PM

    Oh my god I was literally JUST having a conversation about this with my b-e-a-utiful best friend last night!
    Thanks, Rookie for being SUPA DUPA PSYCHIC!

  • guiltfreedonut April 26th, 2012 1:50 AM

    I was thinking about how freaked out I am for college. What was different about the college when you went back? Was it that you were just ready or was it a different atmosphere? How did you choose the one that was right for you?

    http://www.guiltfreedonut.com

    • danielleh April 26th, 2012 1:53 PM

      The difference for me was that I actually wanted to be in a classroom environment studying something specific. I was ready for the work, I was ready to put in the time, etc. I chose a state school because I was paying for it myself, but I think that once you’re ready, ANY school that offers stuff you’re interested in can be a great choice.

  • suriKatka April 26th, 2012 5:40 AM

    Feels like I should print No.6 out and stick it on a fridge so I have to read it every morning.

  • Arwen April 26th, 2012 12:03 PM

    this is great, thank you so much! My dad acts like I have to go to college or I will be a failure in life and even though I tell him I want to go, I secretly don’t want to (sticky situation, I know) he also said if I didn’t go to college he wouldn’t fully support me…..but this article makes me feel much better to know that you can succeed in life without having to attend college!

  • Nashipae April 26th, 2012 2:14 PM

    Thank you! I’m in the first year of college and even if I know this was the right thing for me, it made me think about choices I did and still do every day in a different way.

  • roger April 27th, 2012 7:40 AM

    I think dropping out of college may have affected your critical thinking ability. As far as point number 2, the unemployment rate for those with only a high school diploma is 8.8% while those who have a college degree have an unemployment rate of only 4.1%. Yes, the economy is bad, but it’s a lot worse for those without a degree. Additionally, I think a quick search would bear out some stark contrasts between the earnings of those with and without degrees.

  • clotheshorse April 28th, 2012 11:30 AM

    The thing is, we’re so young. Should it really comes as a surprise when some of us don’t know exactly what we want to do with the rest of our lives?! I’m from the UK and I’m a few months away from finishing sixth form. Come September, all my friends are going to university. I’m not going to university. Why? Because I’m not 100% sure of what I want to do yet, and I don’t want to accidentally spend £27,000 by enrolling on some course I’m not passionate about.
    I’m not stupid — I’ve never got anything lower than a B in an exam — so I hate the way that so many people have judged me and given me disapproving looks when I have informed them that, no, in fact, I am not going to university this September.
    Will I go the year after? Who knows? All I know is that I need the time to make my mind up. University is definitely not the only option. Perhaps I’ll do better in the long run if I tell people that I went to the ‘university of life’; at least it shows that I have a modicum of integrity and, perhaps, sense.

  • koko May 1st, 2012 5:43 AM

    Great article! I had a similar experience – went to college straight out of high school and dropped out after 2 years because it just didn’t feel like I was learning anything that applied to “real life.” I spent the next 12 years working – some great jobs and some not-so-great jobs. I got laid off last year so I decided to go back to school. It is a much better experience now that I am older and have a better idea of who I am and what I want to do! I think there is a fundamental flaw in the system – at such a young age we’re expected to jump into college and immediately begin making decisions about who we are and what we want out of life. I think it’s much more valuable to take some time off, and attend college if/when you determine it’s necessary. While going to college at 18 may work for some, most people I know agree that it’s better not to. Get out there and experience life, and if later you decide you want that degree, then go for it, but at least you’ll know it’s what you really want and not something you were pushed into because that was the expected “next step”.

  • velvetpansy May 3rd, 2012 10:48 AM

    thank you

  • Kennedy Jones May 23rd, 2012 7:20 AM

    This article made me so much better about not going to college after highschool was done. I just felt so overwhelmed by the whole process, and I was lazy and I just had this nagging feeling that it wasn’t right for me. I still think a lot about it though because right now I have a job and that’s about it (living in Japan helps the boredom though!). But again this article makes me feel less awful about it, which I shouldn’t feel anyway but I do, now I’m rambling I’m gonna stop now….mer

  • dustyrose June 5th, 2012 12:29 AM

    Okay, this comment is super-long and kinda self-centered, but Rookie always makes me feel like sharing my own experiences. It’s validating that someone else has gone through the same stuff.
    It’s funny that I’m reading this now as I’m preparing to start my first semester at a university. I graduated high school at sixteen and had no IDEA what the heck I was doing. I went part time to community college and cried a lot about the fact that I hated school.
    I’m twenty-one now and going to school to become an elementary school education. It took me five years to mature enough to think about what I wanted and to get my personal issues sorted out. My family wasn’t pleased at first, and were never pleased with the idea that I’d never go to college, but eventually they accepted that my path might be a bit different. I am now an enormous advocate of people going their own way. I was lucky enough to have parents willing and able to support me financially while I figured my life out, but if I hadn’t, I still think I would have gone through this curving path. If that’s what a person needs to do, they should do it.

  • SorchaR June 9th, 2012 3:36 AM

    FWIW, I’m 41 and never finished college. I’ve decided that no, I’m probably not going to go back, because I’d just be going for the sake of getting a degree and being able to say I finished college. I have a great job at a non-profit, an awesome husband (whom I wouldn’t have met if I’d finished college!) and a terrific 15-year-old son whom I’ve told that his future is his to decide, whether he chooses college, a trade, or something else. The important thing is to be able to support yourself in a job you enjoy – if you can manage to do that, you’ll have a huge head start on loving your life.