There comes a time when a young individual graduates from high school and is ready for the “real world”. The time where they must decide what they will do with their adult life. The road splits and now they must choose which path to take.
- Continue their education to become more qualified for a higher paying job?
- Take a hiatus or gap-year and find a job to accumulate their savings?
- Quit school and never return?
I wanted to write a blog post on this subject because I experienced both sides of the coin where I chose to pursue a higher education and am now a “college drop-out”. I know what it’s like to continue school after high school and I also know what it’s like to not rely on the education system.
This is my opinion based on my experience with school, therefore your experience will differ from mine. You may love it, you may find great opportunities from it, but the experience I am about to share is to help others decide if school will be the right path for them. Take my opinions with a grain of salt and do your research on your own options before deciding.
Many individuals go through one of life’s toughest challenges: figuring out what the heck to do with the rest of your life. In my opinion, the education system is largely at fault for teaching students that their only way to success is through post-secondary. How logical is it to tell a bunch of seventeen year old’s to figure out what they want to do for the rest of their life in their last year of school? There are some kids who know for sure what they want to pursue, but there are others that aren’t committed to anything and end up spending four years and thousands of dollars on a degree that’s useless to them.
Teachers will tell you to do well in school because college and universities will look at your grade 11 and grade 12 transcripts. You are required to finish Math 10, English 12, Science 10, Social Studies (Also known as History) 11 in order for you to graduate. Well, at least that’s the education requirements for your GED in British Columbia.
After getting slammed with classes for five years, you’ve finally graduated and you’re about to walk on the stage in your pretty gown and a cool hat.
The shackles are broken and the chains are gone. You are free to do whatever you want (unless you have strict parents as I do).
You don’t have your annoying counselor and teachers harassing you to come to class. You no longer have to put up with their lectures on what life after high school will be like. Best thing of all, you don’t have to wake up to go to school from 8:30am-3:07pm.
Great, you’re done high school. Now what?
Either go to school or be a disgrace to the family name
My family is the typical Asians you find on comedy shows.
You got a B+?! *disowned*
Now I don’t want to bring race into this blog post, but it is true. My parents are really strict when it comes to school. They had no education back in Vietnam and had to work twice as hard for their money, so they have strong beliefs that if you weren’t in school then you were going to end up sleeping on the streets.
Was I surprised? No. Not really. From day 1 they lectured on how important school was. How crucial it is to get A’s on your report cards. and the thing I always heard was…
“Why can’t you do well in school like your older cousin?”
My older cousin was the prime example my parents always gave my brother and I because she was the “role-model”.
- Straight A’s in high school
- Accepted right into the University of British Columbia (one of the top two universities in the Lower Mainland)
- 4 point something GPA
- Cries when she gets an 89% (Like come on… that’s still an A!)
- Now she’s in medical school.
You get the point now right?
Because she was the first person in our family to do so well in school, she placed the bar at an unreachable height that I could never obtain. I was horrible when it came to school. It never made sense to me and I always found myself working my ass off just to get an average mark and, because of that, I never really cared about school.
I’m sure many of you also have this problem where you are constantly being compared to another person. Being inferior to them just because they are doing better than you, whether it be in school, work, or personality. It sucks.
Now, because my cousin set the bar so high in our family, unfortunately, my parents had intentions for me to continue that same route and pursue higher education and be damn good at it.
Honor and pride are important to my family and I wanted to make my parents happy. I wanted to show them that all the hard work that they’ve put into making sure my brother and I had a good life would be worthwhile. I would grow up to be the one to take care of them and make them proud.
I then decided that I wasn’t going to take a hiatus and continue onto college (not university because my marks were too low).
You crying over 90%!? I got 51%. I SHOULD BE CRYING! but I won’t because I passed :)!
Let me tell you the type of person I was before I went to college. I HATED SCHOOL. I was that kid who loved wrestling and working out and hanging out with friends. I much rather develop my physical health and aesthetics than to be in a classroom listening to useless lectures.
I’ve walked into class many times (late of course) into a classroom with utter silence and kids dead eye centered on their papers. Why was the door locked and why is it so quiet? WE HAVE A TEST?! Shieeeeet…
Teachers hated me because I never tried in school or paid attention. I wasn’t the class clown. I wasn’t the rebel. I was the kid who just couldn’t give two shits about what’s going on in class.
Surprisingly I passed, but there were a few times where it was a close call.
It wasn’t until after high school that I changed my whole attitude and took my education seriously; because I wanted to be “successful”. I was tired of working for minimum wage flipping burgers at McDonald and putting up with disrespectful customers.
After graduating high school, I decided to pursue business in college because that was the only subject that I found most interesting.
A whole new person with a whole new attitude in college
Right after high school I went straight to college to pursue my Bachelors of Business Degree, but first I had to tackle my accounting diploma.
I was very glad that I was able to make up my mind because I know many people who simply don’t know what to do with their life. They are afraid to waste money by applying for a program that they believe they will not fully commit to.
And that is perfectly normal.
Take it from me,
Don’t spend money and thousands of dollars for a program that you believe you will not like. Learning is not expensive. College and university are expensive.
If you think it’s tough to decide what you want to do with your life right after high school, don’t rush into it. Put yourselves in the shoes of those who are 30+ and still finishing their degrees because they changed their mind.
I’ve talked to a few of them and they told me it was because their previous program was something that didn’t work out. They weren’t enjoying what they learned and now they want a new field of studies. Think about the money they wasted?
- Tip #1. Don’t rush into a program/course when you are unsure if you will like it. School is not cheap and so to save yourself the money, pursue a program that you believe you will enjoy!
- Rant #1. We live in a world where we are unsure of what we want to do with our lives. The logical approach is to try it before we commit to it, but in order to try it, you need to be qualified. That means before you can work as a professional doctor, you need to go through 10 years of school before you can really see what the life of a doctor is like.
Back to myself when I was in college,
I took 6-8 courses each semester because the British Columbia Institute of Technology is messed up in that way. There was one semester where there were 6 full semester courses + 4 half semester courses so at one point I was overloaded with 10 courses for a month or two.
How was it possible? How did I do it even when I was working 30 hours a week?
you lose your social life and you learn to master the importance of time management and productivity.
My schedule was like this every day:
- Wake up to go to school
- 8 hours of lectures/labs
- Go home, eat and gym
- relax for a bit
The only exception to this schedule was on the weekends where school was not in session, but a lot of my weekends were used to catch up on my homework and studying.
As the semester goes on, my motivation depleted and what drive I had was almost gone. I was sick of studying for hours and hours only to get mediocre grades compared to the other students. The thing about college/university is that everything is hella competitive. I started not to care because I knew I wouldn’t measure up.
I kept this same mentality until I managed to snag my first job in my related field before I even finished my diploma.
How I Landed my first entry-level accounting job
I was able to get my first entry-level job through the power of networking.
Networking is a process that fosters the exchange of information and ideas among individuals or groups that share a common interest. It may be for social or business purposes. Professionals connect their business network through a series of symbolic ties and contacts. – Investopedia
- Tip #2. Learn how to network. Get to know other people and really get your name out there. You will never know the next person you meet will be someone who gets you your first job (My example below). In today’s age, it isn’t as easy as going up to the front desk and handing in your resume anymore. They’ve probably gotten a million resumes and dumped them all in the shredder. In order to get a job, you need experience. Not many companies will want to hire any fresh new grads straight out of college without any experience. Wait… you need a job first in order to get experience, but how can I get the experience if no one is willing to give me a job. Network. A friendly referral will usually overpower an unknown applicant with qualifications.
- Tip #3: Keep in touch with your friends from college because if those friends are able to land a job within your field of studies, they can eventually help you get in.
During my semester, we had a “practice interview” assignment where professionals volunteered to come visit our institute to help soon to be grads to tough up on their interview skills.
Long story short, I prepared and I killed it. I really impressed my interviewer because of my attitude and willingness to succeed. He loved it and I kept his business card if at any time I needed a real professional’s advice.
Fast forward couple months and I decided to message him to have him proofread my completed resume to get his opinion and any adjustments that I can revise to make it look more appealing and more acceptable to the corporate world.
He loved my resume and he asked if I would be interested in working for a local brewery firm because they were looking for full time Junior Accountant.
Coincidentally, the volunteer who interviewed me for a school assignment ended up being the person who got me my first job. This proves that no matter how boring and dull school is, you never know how it’ll affect your future, so always try!
I said, “hell yeah I was interested”, and after a month of going through the interview process, I was accepted as a junior accountant. I was 22 years old, I hadn’t finished my accounting diploma program and got my first entry level job making $45,000 (CAD) a year. It felt amazing.
The Dream that didn’t last long
One week in and I hated my job.
I can go on and on why I hated the place I worked at, but I’ll save it for another blog post.
It’s a long story, but I only lasted for a month before I quit and decided to take the big step and dropped out of college with only an accounting diploma.
My HONEST honest opinion
Many people believe that school will make you successful.
You go through 4 years of continuing studies just to receive a piece of paper that states that you qualify for a certain field. That paper will allow you to get an entry level job where you will end up working as a slave until the day you retire. The money that you gave up for school such as tuition, transit, books, school supplies, printing paper was an investment that you hope will generate you a higher return than the basic minimum wage.
You graduate from your post-secondary school and now you think you’re the shit. You have a diploma/certification mailed on the way and now you’re ready to make the big bucks and climb the corporate ladder.
You go into your first job and you instantly find out that it was a mistake. Or perhaps, the first day is always the worst and the days will become easier and better.
Only to find out that the problem isn’t the place, it was what you were doing for 40 hours a week. The job that you dreamt of turns out to be complete shit. You can either tough it out and stay or you can quit and go back to square one and find a new career path.
I’m not saying that choosing the education route of life will always lead to disappointment. A lot of people actually found happiness taking this route because they picked the right field of studies that they loved.
The education system isn’t a scam and the investment can be worth it in the end, but you really need to pick a field that you believe you will enjoy.
We live in a world where if you want to experience a certain field then you need the qualifications, but in order to get qualified you need a piece of paper that’s worth over $10,000 stating you have theoretically practiced and had the knowledge to know what the heck you’re doing.
It’s like in order to get a job you need the experience, but in order to get the experience, we need the job! That’s the backwards world we live in, but that’s just the way the world turns.
My overall thoughts about school:
During my time in college, I always had a terrible mindset when it came to school. The thoughts weren’t around during every waking day, but they were in the back creeping around, ready to spring out when I was most vulnerable.
Is the money spent worth it? Is the time wasted worth it? Is losing sleep to finish this assignment worth it? Is stressing out over my exams worth it?
Does this mark on this test really dictate my potential in life? Does this F mean I will be a failure? Will I end up working for that kid over there who got a 100%?
School just never fully made sense to me. Why do I have to put down so much money for a piece of paper to pursue a career I don’t even know if I will enjoy.
Why am I cramming all of this information for an exam when I know that I will flush over 75% of the information out of my head after the exam is finished.
Will I learn any real traits that I can carry over into everyday life?
If I decide to leave school, will anything that I’ve learned in college be applicable to other aspects of life?
WILL I BE ABLE TO SAY THAT THIS PIECE OF PAPER (CERTIFICATION) HAS TO STRENGTHEN ME AND TAUGHT BE VALUABLE EXPERIENCES TO HELP ME DO ANYTHING I WANT IN LIFE?!
Also!!! Is this program really worth $20,000+!?!?
There are so many people who are currently working at a job within their field of studies and they are still paying off their student loans! That’s one of the worst debt you can be in because the interest rate on it will dig you into a deeper hole. It takes people 10 to 20 years to pay that shit off.
If you want to be financially independent and wealthy then you can’t have these debts hanging you by the neck! If you really want to pursue higher education with a goal to earn more income in the future then at least leverage yourself in a position where you will be able to pay off those loans.
I felt inferior to my classmates because they looked as though the assignments and exams wasn’t budging them. They passed with flying colors and talked about what continuing studies they will pursue next. They’re already thinking about the next step when I was more concerned with being able to pass the first one.
During my whole time in college, I felt as though my mind was trapped within a box where I couldn’t fully express and maximize my full potential. I felt so restrained and didn’t have room to fully breathe and do what I wanted to do. With strict curriculum, it’s hard for students to stray from the path and become creative.
Like I said before and I will say it again, school is not a scam. School has worked out for many people, but in this world, we are all different. We find enjoyment and drive from many different things in life.
And those different things are not always provided in school. If your passion is to be a doctor then by all means, you will have to go through school for it. A lawyer? You need school. My point is that some passions don’t require you to go through college/university.
If you are reading this and your’re contemplating if you should pursue/continue school then let me tell you this,
Your marks from school do not dictate whether or not you will be successful. Don’t pursue further education through school because others want you to or because you don’t know what you want to do yet. In the mean time, work on yourself. Learn to become a better version of yourself.
Learn how to become a strong leader, learn how to communicate with others, learn how to manage your time, and really learn how to find your enjoyment and happiness in life. When you pursue what you truly makes you happy, the pieces will eventually fall together.
Don’t fall victim to the education system. Learn what you really enjoy in life and pursue it.