We all waited 12 years for our high school graduation. Some of us may have waited longer than that. Then, you finally got there and moved your tassel over to the left side. It's an amazing and proud moment until reality hits. So what happens now?
It is expected of any 18-year-old to go to college, get a job and eventually "settle down." Our generation is breaking tradition and taking a new path to their future. Instead of going to college, young adults are making their mark on the world in many other different ways.
1. Following in his family's footsteps.
William McLeod left high school and enlisted in the Air Force. He only had three days of summer break before he went into his basic training in Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
He was asked why he chose to enlist, and William told Fresh U, "So I could serve my country and help pay for school. I come from a military family on both sides and it was also just a right of passage." Pulled by family tradition, William was able to follow in his relatives footsteps and create a steady foundation for a later education.
Education is such a vital part of our lives. We learn new things every day and attaining an education is a basic right of every human being.
2. Straight to business.
Christian Kelley went to college straight out of high school and worked a part-time job, making deliveries. His second year into school, he has moved to a full-time job and started his own business.
He explained to Fresh U the basics of his business: "I go out to customers' homes and clean their electronics for them (TVs, computers, laptops, appliances, etc.) Stuff that if you do it wrong you can seriously damage it, so I have a bit of a niche market." Christian fast-tracked his life and established himself in the business world all on his own. He presents an example of a success story for self-discipline and determination.
It is often the expectation that after, or during college, people should start to establish their career. Though it is rare to go directly from high school to a career you love, it is not impossible. We all have hobbies while we are young. Some have like sports, theater or debate.
3. The dancer in all of us.
Kate Anderson chose to dance. She trained at the Kansas City Ballet, and originally planned to go to college at the University of Utah, but she was offered a traineeship over the summer and decided that she didn't want to pass up the opportunity.
Now, Kate is currently a trainee at the Kansas City Ballet which is part of the second company. So as a trainee, she dances corps parts with the main company as well as does performances around the Kansas City area to educate people on dance and how the art form can grow and change.
It was inspiring to hear Kate's story, and how she took an opportunity that can come only once in a lifetime. She told Fresh U, "I figured an education could always wait but a possible dance career couldn't." Kate quite literally took a leap of faith and is establishing herself in the world of Baryshnikov, Twyla Tharp, Balanchine and so many others.
4. A gap year full of opportunities.
It is a lot of pressure to decide where you will be for the next four year of your life right out of high school. Sometimes, taking a gap year, or deferring from a school for a semester can help finalize decisions about school and future career moves.
Mimi DeLuca decided to take a gap year after getting accepted to DePaul, just to make sure she wanted to invest a bunch of money in college, and so she could explore what she wanted to do with her life. She moved to Austin, TX and worked at a non-profit legal organization called Texas Medical Legal Partnership. She did legal intake and occasionally went to court with her boss. Mimi also worked with a local musician and booking agent and did random jobs. She did things like take concert photos, update musicians' Facebooks, keep up-to-date on concerts and sell merchandise.
After her internship ended she moved and now is working as an assistant preschool teacher, and doing some volunteer work for Planned Parenthood. Mimi commented, "I'm just preparing to go back to school in the fall, and applied to lots of different schools this time now that I'm more focused on my goals and have an idea of what I want to study."
5. You don't always need a degree to do what you love.
Whether it is an immediate action or somewhere in your plans for the future, college seems to be on the minds of many. It is not uncommon for people to attend school and change their minds later on. Syd Lazarte attended Columbia College, Chicago for her first semester of her freshman year.
Syd told Fresh U, "I just wanted to have fun singing and dancing, and lo and behold, a musical theater major is what offered that. Also, it is expected of an 18-year-old to go to college, even if it isn't the correct path." It only took her a semester to realize that school wasn't right for her at the moment. Now Syd is dropping out because she does not necessarily need a degree for the career she has chosen.
We all have a way of finding our road to success. Some of us may choose to be scholars and earn the piece of paper, while others fast-track their lives and do it on their own. There is no wrong way to achieve your dreams. People who don't attend college are not wasting an opportunity, they are taking one, just as people who do attend school are taking the opportunity to expand their knowledge through the guidance of others. It is up to us how we control our future. If we are proud of our decisions, then that is the greatest success we can accomplish.
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