Not All Kids Go To College

Growing up in my household, it was always understood that my brother and I would grow up, go to university, and start working. There was no time for messing around, no nonsense about taking a gap year, and heavens help you if you mentioned taking another path other than university. I thought it was no big deal, and luckily I grew up as a studious kid. University was something that always appealed to me – that is, until I actually got there. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my school and what I study, but there are some days where I wonder what the heck I’m doing sitting in a classroom. I have spent countless hours lying in bed at night wondering what my life would be like if I had gone to college instead, or straight into an apprenticeship and the workplace. The further I get into university, the more I realize that university is not for everyone.

On Saturday, I was a leadership conference for the YMCA. The keynote speaker was Ryan Porter, author of Make Your Own Lunch. Ryan was an incredibly engaging speaker, telling us about how he dropped out of college and moved to Japan. Now he talks to kids about choosing the right path for them, and that it’s okay to change where you’re going. He talked about why post-secondary education was not the perfect fit for him and how realizing that made his life a whole lot better. Listening to him talk about his adventures without school (and how happy he was!) reaffirmed what I was starting to learn about school.

Working with kids, a lot of whom are in high school, I want to make sure that I’m creating an environment where each and every student can learn. Though it may not be my place now, I want students I work with to realize what their true path in life is – and that going straight to university is not always it! I was pushed to go to university, and thankfully that’s working out for me, but I promise to never push my kids into something as big and scary and life changing as post-secondary education. There was such an emphasis on going to university in my house that it seemed suicidal to mention any other path. I hope that my kids don’t feel that way – no matter where they go, they’ll be supported. Finding your path in life is way more important than trying to figure out which university to go to. I just hope that everyone is able to find something that they love to do and learn about it in their own way, whether that be through school or working.

Emma — The Suburban Aggie

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