The world is bigger than college

Zachary Brenner


Imagine for a moment that high school marked the final four years of any formal educational experience. This thought may be frightening to some, and reassuring to others. The common perception is that college is automatically the next step after high school. The irony is that the college process might actually be hindering students from developing the astounding abilities and skills that they possess.

If high school was the final experience at school for students, they would be forced to think of how to apply the knowledge taught in the classroom to the real world. Because college is a reality, people are not focusing on how their strengths and weaknesses will help them thrive in the real world, but rather on how they can get amazing grades. People surmise that a B+ in 9th grade Geometry will have Ivy League and UC schools laughing them out of the admissions process. The reality is that a B+ is a grain of salt compared to the many successes and failures that people will face once out of the shelter of school.

For anyone who wishes to be sane, it is crucial to put things in perspective. Throughout my high school career, I have seen students have meltdowns and panic attacks about tests, projects, essays, and homework assignments. There is such a strong emphasis on grades, which makes the goal and product of school, to gain knowledge, become overlooked. 

The college process simply hampers the lives of high school students by stimulating massive amounts of stress and anxiety that distract students from their growth as learners.  Yes, a higher education is incredibly valuable and enlightening, but does a higher education necessarily mean college? And if one does wish to go to college, where is it a rule that he/she must attend immediately after graduating high school?

Before enrolling in college, students should consider their aspirations for life. And if the student already knows his/her life goal, why not explore that interest outside of a structured classroom environment? If you want to be a filmmaker, make a movie. If you want to be a speaker, go speak. Anyone with the proper amount of motivation and courage can begin to pursue their interests. Students who take the initiative will be more confident once getting to college or moving on to their future plans.

The new reality of American society is that a degree does not ensure an occupation. Rather, skillfulness ensures employment. Look at some of the most successful people: Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates. They do not have college degrees. I’m not saying that taking a break from formal school environments will ensure lucrative success, but it will inspire people to take notice of what they are passionate about and explore those topics within the unlimited and unrestrictive depths of the real world.

If everyone took off a year of school after completing high school, the residents of the world would prosper to a new level of sophistication and maturity. After experimenting in the real world, you can always go back to school if you feel it necessary. Rather than exploring interests through the constraints of a classroom (which is valuable at times) explore interests out where it really matters. Getting denied from a school does not mark the end of your life. It could, however, establish the birth of a new one.

This article is not meant to turn people away from the idea of college, but rather take note of how the college process is hindering our capabilities. College is no longer compulsory. The stress and anxiety of this caliber is unnecessary. Stop allowing grades and test scores to take command of your life, and begin to take control of your own.