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Students shouldn't feel pressured to go to college.

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Raise your hand if you’ve been asked where you’re going to college at least once today. Alright, I’m picturing almost every senior raising their hand. Now keep that hand up if your college plan is set in stone. I bet most hands have sunken down.

College has been the hot topic of our lives for months, and that’s stressful and awkward for those who choose not to go. We’ve been conditioned to think a four-year degree is the only path into the world of success in America; however, the norm in our society has been shifting, and the education system has to get on board.

We can’t ostracize those who choose different paths. A “typical college experience” isn’t on the list of desires for many kids, so we shouldn’t expect every student to have the same post high school plan.

If someone doesn’t go to college, that opens a world of opportunity, not the assumed pathway to being unsuccessful and unhappy. Alternative options may be a gap year in order to travel or do mission work, getting a job right away, or attending vocational school.

Not to mention, the competition for “name brand” college admission is intense. It’s an expensive and long process to apply, and the hoops people jump through to get into some schools are absurd.

Pushing students towards the four year college ideal can cause excessive stress. Once they’re in, they feel like failures because they were pressured into a future they weren’t suited for in the first place.

This may seem extreme, but it happens. We’re told to follow our dreams, but if our dream doesn’t involve getting a certain degree, we may be left in the dust. It’s time to nix the standard of getting into prestigious schools and to start helping kids prepare for their future whether it’s skipping college to get a job or attending Princeton.

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