I'm going to tell you something shocking.
I do not have a college degree.
I moved out on my own when I was eighteen. Not because my parents forced me, but because I have always been fiercely independent and felt I needed to provide for myself.
I attended college classes and even took courses online, but the expense was too grave for me to manage while trying to maintain a household and life. Especially since I wasn't 100% sure what profession I wanted. I just couldn't justify spending the money when I may not utilize the degree.
I did know that I wanted to be an author at some point and I also knew that whether or not I had a degree in English (which was my field of study) would not determine whether I had a successful career. Unless you hit the jackpot like J.K. Rowlings, Danielle Steel or Steven King a career as an author is likely not going to pay the bills. I am a dreamer, but also a realist.
I started my working career as a Metro Newspaper Delivery girl when I was just thirteen. I dabbled in retail, which is where a fellow associate and friend introduced me to the Optical field. I started at the front desk as an optical assistant, but the company quickly took notice of my work ethic deciding to monetarily support me in my choice to pursue my optician's license. Enter a slight hiccup; my studly husband, who became my boss and forced me out into the job market.
I worked as lead return coordinator for three years at a world-renowned manufacturer of air purifiers for the chemically sensitive before I left to pursue a career in Marketing. Had the work environment with that company been more conducive to associate growth and support, I would have made a lifelong career of that position. But, as they say, everything happens for a reason. I could not be happier with where I am currently. Managing a dental office may have seemed like a long-shot, heck the ad even specified "must have dental experience" of which I had none, but my resume and personality lent their hand to a great interview and a new job!
There have been plenty of moments throughout my adult life when I have been ashamed to admit that I do not have a college degree. I am swimming against the current in a society that persistently pushes our youth to obtain a Bachelor's degree or at the very least an Associates. Here's the thing, school isn't for everyone. Not everyone excels in the traditional college setting. Sometimes skills are best suited when they are learned first-hand.
The other day I listened to a patient explain the importance of pushing our children onto academic paths that will leave them in a better position to secure a job. Albeit may not be a job they love or even like, but it will pay the bills and provide a means for retirement when the time comes. I wholeheartedly disagree.
We only have one life to live. I wish nothing more than for Shelby to pursue a career that provides happiness and nourishment for her mind and soul. That may seem extra corny, but to wake up every morning and head to a job that does nothing more than pay the bills, that's not living, that's existing. I want my daughter to LIVE. To truly enjoy life and I realize that may mean she may choose not to go to college. Maybe she'll go to trade school or earn a certificate to be a dental assistant or a real estate license.
Society needs to wake up and smell the possibilities. There is more than one option for continuing life after high school and what works for one isn't, or might not, work for the other. Society has narrowed its views of success to a single lane. College + degree = success.
Personal Care Assistant
Physical Therapist Aide
Customer Service Reps
These are just a few careers that do not require a degree. Not attending college, or not obtaining a degree does not mean you are a failure. Frankly, I think society is going to find itself in a conundrum when it comes to filling positions requiring the skilled trades of metal working or plumbing, and we'll have no one to blame but ourselves for pushing traditional college like it's the only right decision.