Anyone else feel like they were pressured to go to University? As if choosing any other path would have made you less than. That going to trade school will just be more work and less money. That starting your business without some fancy degree behind you will be impossible. You were just going to be wasting your time and life if you didn’t continue to spend the next four years of your life continuing school, and that’s just at a minimum.
I wish I had skipped college.
I honestly do and talk about it frequently. Today, my degree has nothing to do with the business I have built. I went to school for biology with the intentions of continuing onto veterinary school because that was a job that I should be proud of and would be considered successful in. It was a dependable plan and idea, unlike any of the other paths I could have taken.
Oh, the wasted time.
That’s the first regret I have about college, is all the time I wasted when I could have been focusing on the business I really wanted. While I love animals and still enjoy being around them, the idea of actually being a vet never excited me. I was in biology and chemistry classes that took hours upon hours of studying, and now I don’t even use that knowledge except for the occasional fun fact while watching TV with my husband. Most of these classes, I didn’t even enjoy.
The loans I now pay on a useless piece of paper.
Oh, the student loans. I went to South Dakota State. Probably one of the cheapest schools you can go to and still had to take out thousands in student loans. Now, I will admit that if I really wanted to, I could change the amount of time and prices of my services and have these paid off in no time. I choose not to due to other life choices that I find a higher priority, but it still irks me every time I log in that I even have to pay them in the first place, on a degree that I don’t use, because I never actually wanted to do the things that this degree allows me to do. I was pressured into thinking it was the only logical choice in my life.
I considered my actual passion a hobby.
The mindset of something as a hobby is what can take years for it to actually make you any money. Because it didn’t involve needing a degree or continuing education, I assumed that what I was doing was just a fun hobby that I could take or leave at any time. If my little blog did make me any money, it was lucky. Not because I had actually worked hard enough at it and there was absolutely no way that it could actually be a reliable source of income in the future, let alone my actual job.
Silly, silly 20 year old me. My hobby was actually the education that I needed.
I don’t need the piece of paper on my wall to do the job that I actually do every day. The social media management / virtual assistant business I have created has stemmed from my hours on Pinterest, YouTube, and Google instead. The hours I spent writing blog posts, learning how to work Picmonkey, and diving into Illustrator and Canva. It’s built on the success of researching hashtags and keeping up with social media trends, not hours in the classroom making mock business plans and learning the intricate pieces and activities in a cell.
College didn’t prepare me for the curveballs that life was going to throw at me. It didn’t prepare me for actually finding a job once I was done with my degree, one that made sense for the amount of time and money I had put into my education AND that I enjoyed. It didn’t prepare me for the fact that just a few years after graduation, a pandemic was coming that would rock the business industry, which would have made my degree exceptionally difficult to use if I had continued down that path.
That’s the best part of running a small business. I’m flexible.
Before you make that college choice, before you continue on a path that you aren’t really sure of, take a good hard look at what you are doing and what you really enjoy. Are you following a path because you feel forced down it? Like you have to find something “dependable” and “respectable,” instead of following what you actually want to do? What do you actually want to become of your life? Is your actual focus and point of living to be successful in this specific way? Do you want to be flexible and put more focus on a family that you someday may have?
For some, it is 100% the right choice. For others, like myself, it might just be a pile of debt that didn’t need to be.
The world is no longer black and white when it comes to education. We are in a completely different financial world than our parents, than our grandparents, where furthering your education through college was the obvious option. These days, courses can just as easily be found on Pinterest or through apps, and be more relevant to your future than a University class.
We can’t back ourselves into a corner and act like there is only one path anymore. Forging your own path is easier now than ever before. Building a brick and mortar business or a digital one are easier now. You have choices. The path of the people before us is NOT the only option. And even if you have started down one path, guess what? You can change it. You don’t owe finishing school to anyone, not even yourself, if it no longer makes sense in your life.
The only thing you owe yourself is a good honest look at what you want your life to entail.
Skipping college, or leaving before getting a degree, isn’t the end of the world. I really wish that I had at least left when I realized that I no longer wanted the path I was originally on.