Why Attending a Four Year University May Not Be the Right Path for Everyone

Students may find that attending college right after high school is not the right choice for them.


Anaya Lamy

USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism

by Anaya Lamy, Reporter

As many seniors reach the end of high school, the future awaits them. Many students are going on to pursue the paths that will determine the trajectory of their lives. 

Attending a four year university seems to be a common path that many students intend to pursue after high school. However, it can be wondered whether or not students actually attend college for the pursuit of knowledge or simply just because it is what is expected of them.

Employment rates of 25- to 34-year-olds, by sex and educational attainment: 2020 From the National Center for Education Statistics

It is evident that in the US a person is more likely to get employed with some sort of college degree as opposed to just a high school diploma. Despite this, there are many career paths that do not require any kind of college degree.

College can provide many opportunities and benefits. According to Northeastern University, having a college degree can increase access to job opportunities, provide preparation for a stabilized career, increase earning potential, provide intellectual stimulation, and can all around improve personal growth and self esteem. Although college can be beneficial, it also may not be the right path for everyone. 

Senior Zoe Dela Cruz has decided to attend the Firefighter academy after high school. Dela Cruz had not even considered attending the academy until their teacher, Mrs. Beck presented this as a potential option. “It opened my eyes to what it actually takes to be a first responder and helped me realize that I want to be a helpful part of the community.” Says Dela Cruz. “Plus who doesn’t love an adrenaline rush.” 

There are many different ways of learning and for some, spending four years at a University is not a system that works for their brain.

Students in a Classroom at CKHS (Anaya Lamy)

“I definitely think that people really do benefit from it but some people don’t learn the way that colleges and professors want you to learn things. I also think that people unintentionally use college wrong, in terms of what people major and minor in,” says Dela Cruz. 

Not to mention, college can create a large financial burden for some. “Some people aren’t guiding themselves to a career but an investment that has no real mairt and a big debt,” says Dela Cruz. 

It also can be difficult to decide whether or not that financial burden is something you want to take on at such a young age. “I chose not to immediately attend college because I wanted more time to actually decide whether or not that is a path for me or if it would be something I want to increase my pay,” says Dela Cruz. 

Many also feel societal and familial pressures to attend college as they are forced to believe that is the only option. Dela Cruz says that “Being a child of an asian immigrant they pushed the idea that you can’t be successful without college.” 

Although this cannot be an easy issue for parents to come around to, Dela Cruz was able to convince their family that success does not have to come with a college degree. “I helped them realize that there are more careers that don’t require a college education and now that they have a new mindset they completely support me and whatever my decisions are.” 

Malaya Hagge, a senior at Central Kitsap High School, is attending the University of Rochester this fall as a freshman. Hagge intends to major in Psychology and later become a research psychologist. Although Hagge always wanted to attend a four year University, she does not disregard the challenges that can come with it.

Central Kitsap Senior, Malaya Hagge
Photo Provided By Malaya Hagge

“I always enjoyed school and wanted to have a higher paying job so I knew I would need more education than just an associates degree,” says Hagge.

Hagge acknowledges the economic issues that can come with attending college. “College is unreasonably and ridiculously expensive. It’s completely unfair that the student’s financial aid availability comes from parents’ income” says Hagge.

“Not all parents are willing to help their child with college and I am in that category. My parents can’t help much because they have other kids to take care of and they’re too well off for me to get any help on a financial basis. I shouldn’t have to fight for my life just to be able to scrap by in college or work myself to death in college and throughout my life just to pay off student loans. This is my future. It should be based on my income, which is minimum wage.” Hagge says. 

Despite Hagge wanting to attend a four year college, she recognizes that success can be obtained without excessive years at a college. “Both of my parents are highly successful and only have a high school diploma and an associates degree so my parents are living proof to me that no you don’t need a high college degree to be successful.”

Before deciding the right journey after high school, It may be important to reflect on the decision. It is helpful to choose a path that aligns with your interests and makes sense for your future. 

Dela Cruz says, “You don’t have to go to college to do something great with your life. You don’t have to be famous to be a meaningful part of the world. You make the decision that makes you happy and look at the bigger picture rather than just yourself.”