College Isn’t For Everyone

My father and I recently had a discussion about ambition and academia. He told me that it’s been a slow and somewhat difficult realization for him that not everyone is cut out for higher learning. He went on to explain that he didn’t mean some people aren’t smart enough. He simply meant that college isn’t where their ambition lies.

My father was deliberately referring to me. I’ve known for years that my parents believe I’m intelligent with the capability of making A’s. I have earned A’s frequently enough that they’ve never thought otherwise. However, through middle school, high school and even my first several years of college, they would rant and rave against my poor academic standing and performance. When my father called me a few months ago with the realization that maybe college isn’t for me what it was for him, I was intrigued.

It’s something I’ve had to consider on and off since that conversation. If college isn’t for me, but I’m an intelligent individual, then where does that leave me? I’m in my senior year and graduating with my journalism degree in the spring. I enjoy writing, along with the truth and story aspect of journalism. It just isn’t necessarily how I want to make a living. Honestly, it was the easiest and most enjoyable path for me that UCA offered.

Despite college not being of paramount importance, I will finish it. Finishing what I start is important to me. Although, I’m still left with this question: What knowledge am I after, if not knowledge that a university can give?

As I lay here, getting over a sinus infection and reflecting on my four years at UCA, the answer seems plain as day. I don’t want higher education or even a career necessarily (although I desire the money to provide for loved ones and make a comfortable life for myself). What I truly desire is knowledge of the real world.

I thirst for experience. I find myself bright-eyed at the prospect of moving to new places, learning new cultures and visiting far off lands. My drive for knowledge will not lead me to books, computer labs or halls of study, but to fields, small towns and cities unlike the ones I know and love. I am not a man of little ambition, unless the ambition referred to is that of a big office and a life of expensive toys. I find myself as my ancestors of a half-dozen generations past might have — filled with wanderlust and a desire to know what else there is of life beyond the confines of my hometown and the city of my university.

My point in offering an anecdote is this: Despite my general discontent over living and learning here for four years, I am not doomed to a life of mediocrity and flipping burgers, and I wouldn’t be even if I were to drop out today. There are many paths of learning out there and college is just the most common one here in the U.S.

If anyone feels now as I have these past few years, don’t be afraid to admit that college isn’t for you. I was also afraid and I can confidently promise you that forcing yourself to go to class when your ambition is trying to lead you out into the world will only result in wasted years. There is no shame in making your own path. There is no shame in knowing yourself better than society claims to know you. If your loved ones truly have your best intentions at heart, they will understand that you’re simply doing what is best for you.

image via www.theatlantic.com

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