Where are you going to school? What are you going to study? These are the most common questions youth get asked during their senior year of high school.
Rather than ask if we plan to continue going to school, everyone assumes you will be because they think you have to. Saying you’re not going to continue studying after high school typically leads to disappointed reactions, and these disappoint me.
They never even ask what my plans actually are.
Instead, I typically get a judgmental look that tells me what they’re thinking. People jump to conclusions based solely on a few of our decisions. They typically assume that either you aren’t smart enough to continue school or you made a bad decision in not continuing. It’s disappointing that society has collectively created a stereotype that youth need to go to college to have a successful life. The pressure high school youth get to go to college is unreal—it’s presented as your only post-graduation option.
I’m not saying that attending college is a bad thing. On the contrary, I believe it’s a great option for anyone who wants to take that path. And that’s exactly it.
College is an option, not an obligation. You shouldn’t have to feel bad or guilty for making the decisions you believe are best for you. Some people don’t want to continue studying and others can’t continue studying. No one should be made to feel less than anyone else for that.
Schools definitely create a lot of that pressure by giving this mindset to students from a young age. Schools are a huge influence on students’ desired paths after high school. Schools should help students understand that there are many different options in life, and any of them can be considered the right path. It could help youth’s mental health in so many ways.
Giving youth more options would be better than just pressuring them into going to college. Instead of being pressured into one path, youth should be offered opportunities to pursue numerous options after high school. Youth do not need to be given the mindset that only college will give them a good future.
Calafia is yli’s statewide youth policy journal that amplifies the narratives of young people on topics and issues important to us and our communities. As we prepare our final print publication, the Calafia fellows are proud to present The Story of My City series as a way to bring you closer to the worlds we live in. Stay tuned for our publication later this year!