Believe it or not, there are many reasons why a senior may not attend college. Whether it’s for financial reasons, or family obligations, a senior may defer. Others choose to take a career or technical path that isn’t at a traditional university, and others still simply choose not to attend. While there are many wonderful and worthy reasons why a senior may not be attending a traditional post-high school education, some can often feel embarrassed or awkward about explaining the decision to family members and friends. If you are one of these high schoolers, here are our best tips to sharing the next steps in your life with the people around you:
-Be confident: No one can predict or judge your life path except you. If you have chosen not to attend college, the best thing you can do is not apologize for what you have decided. Even if your decision is something you feel is humbling (such as finances or not getting into your dream school), stay strong and remember that your self worth is not based in other’s opinions of you. Come up with a simple and clear explanation and use it when people ask. Having a prepped-and-ready answer can help quell the questions and allow you to move on in conversations. Some example would be, “My life has taken a different direction”, “College at this point in my life isn’t the best fit for my future goals”, etc.
-Accept that not everyone will understand: People may be surprised or even rude about your choice. Accepting this early on will help keep you focused on the goal. If you have chosen a technical trade school, or something like cosmetology, remember that your passion is why you have forgone the traditional route, and that’s admirable! It’s possible that even some of your relatives may be shocked or try to dissuade you, but remember the decision is between you and your parents or guardian, and not everyone else in your extended family. With the proper support, you can be successful no matter your path.
-It’s okay if you don’t have a plan: Some seniors know they don’t have a true plan in place, but defer college so they don’t incur student loans with an unsure degree in mind. We recommend either choosing a community college to decrease your expenses and get your pre-requisites done affordably, or begin working full or part-time if you are able. This will give you time to come up with a good plan, and will keep saving you money in the meantime. If you are not attending college because you weren’t accepted by your dream school, it’s okay to not have a backup plan, but DO something constructive while you wait, whether that’s taking classes at a community college, or working towards a strong career. Keeping busy will also fend off depression and anxiety related to your life plans.
-Don’t be afraid to ask for help: Not attending college is a perfectly acceptable decision WHEN you have great support in place. If you are simply feeling overwhelmed and depressed about college plans, ask for help from a therapist, parent, or loved one. Sometimes, a feeling of uncertainty is a need for more support and mental health care, rather than a surety that college isn’t for you. Maybe you feel overwhelmed by the academic demands, by the financial commitment, or the idea of leaving home. All of these things can be discussed and supported by friends and family, and can make the transition into your next phase of life easier. Remember, it is okay to decide whatever you would like to do; just make sure you are healthy and happy and in the position to make a positive and meaningful choice.