College not sole determining factor in post-high school successes


Trisha Chaudhary

Not all post-high school careers lead to college
Art by Jennifer Stanley
Bill GatesMark Zuckerberg. Steve JobsMichael Dell. These incredibly successful entrepreneurs all dropped out of college.
Their unorthodox schooling embodies the fact that the business world now has a different face from the past. Fewer people are taking the traditional path of going to college for four to eight years, finding jobs and spending their lives working their way up. Of course, there are many who take the traditional path, but that was a trademark of the last generation.
The modern job market has become almost unrecognizable compared to that of the last generation. With the opportunity to just create a résumé and be set for life, many people find the college option less appealing. People are increasingly creating their own jobs because the old promise of “go to college, get a job” isn’t true anymore.
According to the Small Business Administration website,, there are 23 million small businesses in the United States. Many of these business owners became successful without degrees. According to the Associated Press, in April 2012, 53 percent of college graduates were unemployed or working a job that didn’t require a bachelor’s degree. A college degree can’t guarantee a job anymore. The option of not going looks pretty nice from here, but seems to completely contradict everything I’ve been working for.
It seems like we spend our high school careers preparing for college. We try to keep up good GPAs, do extracurricular activities and take Advanced Placement classes for credit. We’re taught that college is the next step. In fact, 79 percent of the 2012 RBHS graduating class planned on attending a four-year college.
I know for many it’s pretty crazy to think about not going to college. I’ve never considered the other option. Thinking of it seems preposterous to me. I’ve never met anyone who hasn’t gone to college and been successful. But when I actually consider what comes with college, it doesn’t seem as preposterous.
Let’s stop and think about the cons of college. One of the deciding factors in choosing a college is always money. Currently, there is $1 trillion in outstanding student debt, with $117 billion added last year alone, according to calculations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. College tuition levels quadrupled since the early 1980s, according to the Student Body Scholarship Association. All of this would be fine if I knew I was spending my money wisely, that when I graduated I could find a job. But there is no guarantee of that.
This is by no means saying, “Forget college! Just create a website and you’ll be famous!” Let’s be realistic. We can’t all create the next big thing and be the next Jack Dorsey and Evan Williams (Twitter) or David Karp (Tumblr).
But it’s not just the self-made entrepreneurs that create websites and applications who make it big. Groups offering college alternatives have become increasingly popular. UnCollege, which “shows you how to gain the passion, hustle and contrarianism requisite for success — all without setting foot inside a classroom,” Enstitute, which offers two-year apprenticeships with entrepreneurs in lieu of college and Zero Tuition College, an online support network for students looking for alternatives, are finding themselves with more university-age heretics pledging allegiance. People no longer want the cookie-cutter route. I think the number one misconception is that college equals success.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics,, in 2010, males with bachelor’s degrees earned an average of $17,000 more than those with only high school diplomas, and females with bachelor’s degrees earned an average of $15,000 more. Though it seems that college-graduated individuals earn more, males with only high school diplomas earn an average of $32,800 a year and females $25,000 a year. The world is changing. Post-high school training is becoming a viable route into well-paying jobs. 

We judge those who don’t follow conventional paths and who challenge the norm, and non-college-goers do just that. We need to stop putting so much stock in a college education. College is important, but it’s not everything. Judging people because they try to find success somewhere else is never justifiable. No matter what we choose, hard work is what matters, not whether we go to college.
By Trisha Chadury