All throughout my primary, middle, and high school years I was told to shut up, do what I was told, and that real life will creep up on me and knock me right out in one straight punch if I wasn’t prepared (at least, that’s what my classes were told by some *ahem* rather pessimistic teachers). I could never understand why we were taught for the sole purpose of going ahead into the next grade when we should be preparing ourselves for the reality of life instead – buying a house, filing taxes, writing a resume and how to act at a job interview, money management, etc.
In elementary school I was told to get ready ’cause “middle school is going to be hard” and your teachers won’t cut you some slack like they do now and you might be overwhelmed by the difficulty of schoolwork. My middle school experience wasn’t far off from this (although it wasn’t normal in the slightest, but that’s a story for another day) but during these years they instead focused solely on preparing me for high school. Everything was high school this, high school that, so much that middle school didn’t really exist anymore. Then arrived high school. Standardized tests, peer pressure, hours of homework, trying not to get killed by “meaningless” in-school pranks, forcibly attending after-school activities although you really just want to go home and sleep because of the pressure of everything I just mentioned, being told off by teachers, being instructed to suck it up because the real world – as if it was this far off maddening idea – the real world would not welcome excuses.
It was extremely frustrating and stressful because it felt as if no matter how hard I worked, how many hours I put into studying or going out with friends, what I did was never enough.
Maybe you’re fresh out of high school and just sooo exhausted with
deadlines and unrealistic expectations, or maybe you know you won’t benefit from further schooling with your chosen profession. Or hey, maybe you want to be your own boss and choose to appreciate the years now before enrolling in courses later on to broaden your understanding.
There are so many choices, so many things you can do that don’t require college straight out of high school.
It took me a whole gap year to figure out that I need to keep learning, expanding outwards and just be doing anything, in order to not go blank in the brain. That’s what I figured out for myself, now you need to find out whether continuing your education will benefit you at all.
Deviating a little, it’s always good to have a backup plan.
Maybe an AA in something pertaining to your passion or graduating with a certificate in a skill you can master with ease. Remember, something is always better than nothing.
Your future employer or (if you become your own boss) your business will be glad for your choice to make an effort to keep learning.
Sometimes things like money and personal issues get in the way of plans – or hinder you from making any at all – but you need to understand that there is always, ALWAYS, a second choice. In this case, there are more than just two choices.
You CAN live without enrolling into a University straight away. You CAN get over the pain of hearing your friends talk about their awesome college experiences while you’re over here still wondering, still planning.
Your life is not yet figured out (unless that’s your thing of course, or God has let you know himself what it is you’re gonna be doing for the rest of your life) and it’s okay. We are young and we will embrace being young until we can still call ourselves sharp-of-mind at seventy, eighty, ninety.
We have our whole lives ahead of us, one year, two years of finding yourself, yea… they won’t get in the way of much. If anything, you’ll be a stronger, smarter, more mature person than you were before.
If you haven’t already realized, I am a strong supporter of not going straight to college after high school.
It was my choice to do so and it has worked for me. It will not be the best choice for everybody, but for those whom benefit I will keep spreading this reality around.
I found these things out too late; I had already graduated or was late for many applications and could not do much which is why I’d like to help others and give ideas before it is too late for them. For you.
Just a reminder that what I’m going to list is for all types of students. Athletes, homeschoolers, traditional students, artists, hands-on learners, those who love to travel, those who want to make a difference in the world, future politicians, EVERYBODY benefits.
I myself have gone through different experiences when it comes to my education.
I was in public school for various years, then virtual school for two years, then public school again for two-and-a-half, then traditional homeschooling, then graduated as a homeschooler under an umbrella school, and am now finishing my first stay-at-home gap year before enrolling into community college.
I have a friend who went off to a well-known university, many who continued onto community college, and a sister who is in a dual-enrollment program while being homeschooled. Some of my childhood friends went to troubled schools, charter schools, went to a religious private school, normal private schools on scholarships, were in virtual school because they traveled incessantly, the list goes on and on and on.
In other words, I have close experiences with a lot of different types of ways to get an education. I’ve also done enough research to come to the conclusion that every single person has a different level of comfort and yet every single person has made it through so much easier after figuring out what works best for them.
If you were to search, you’d see that there is no rush to go off to college. We limit ourselves to the possibilities just for “not being different” or “not getting left out” or even “not enduring ridicule”.
► Take a 5th year of high school (called the post-graduate year or 13th year of school). This is for anybody who wants to take advantage of free college credits or needs extra credits to graduate; it also helps you get good study habits and slowly eases your way into a college experience. There’s also this thing called early college high school that some schools have already implemented into their programs. You’d have to do our own research for this to make sure this option is one that will benefit you rather than hurt your future.
► You can volunteer abroad. Volunteering abroad can be done through many organizations or groups. If you like teaching, you can help teach English to kids in different countries. If you like traveling and learning about a new culture first-hand, you can stay with a host family and work as an Au pair. If you like farming or working with nature while staying with a family in another country, you can be a volunteer (exchanging food and shelter for the memorable experiences you’ll create) who learns about organic farming. You can even work on projects ranging from education to business development, all abroad. Here’s some more opportunities.
► Give yourself some breathing room after working hard for twelve years and take a gap year or two right at home while you get used to working and life skills in general (this is what I am currently doing and let me tell you… it works). You can volunteer at your local library, newspaper office, the zoo, a local business, or an organization that runs locally while also working and teaching yourself a new skill – or more than one. Learn how to cook. Be self-conscious with your money. Attend seminars, festivals, and classes on something that interests you (astronomy, writing, essential oils, painting, photography, etc.). Document it all. Just don’t waste away this time waking up mid-afternoon and spending your days in front of a television screen or computer.
► Write a letter to the college that accepted you asking them to grant you a gap year to go abroad (with a valid reason and not just, “I want to travel”) – when you come back you’d start as a normal freshman and wouldn’t have to worry about applying because you’re technically already in.
► Volunteer or intern at someplace that will benefit who you want to become in the future. I already mentioned places like the library and the zoo but you can also intern at places like a doctor’s office or publishing house. If you ask, the worst they could say is “no, sorry”. If they don’t let you, keep asking away someplace else. When God intends for something to happen… then you can bet it will, in its own time.
► You might choose to go into the military (because of money problems or family issues).
► You could instead go to a tech school or one specified to your trade. This is better for those who know what they want to do already or at least have a less-generalized idea.
► Start a business (or a blog!!) and keep one running to see if you like working for yourself. Who knows, if you become successful you might realize you really like keeping this as your job.
Get yourself out into the world. Explore your city until you have overturned every single pebble in its borders, jumped into every single creek there is in your area, memorized the way colors blend together each time the sun rises and sets in your small section of the earth. Meet new people, make connections with the unlikeliest bunch. Most importantly, live your life. Don’t just spend it existing.