Despite the fact that I have never been to school, nor had any burning desire to attend school it took me quite a while to come to terms with the fact that I don’t want to go to college. But here I am at almost 19, decidedly not going to college and instead sitting in the sun in a youth hostel soon to be filled with over 30 other unschoolers who enjoy writing as much as I do.
It took me many years to be comfortable telling people that I did not want to attend college (at least at this point in my life), although I think I knew, at least on a subconscious level, that college just wasn’t meant for me. I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to come to this conclusion with the support of my family and many of my close friends. I think if it weren’t for the understanding of people surrounding me in my day to day life, as well as meeting other unschoolers and talking to and befriending them (whether they went to college or not) it would have been a much more difficult decision, or possibly one that would never have occurred to me.
When I finally did start finding the courage to tell people what my actual plans were (instead of mumbling something about not being sure where I wanted to apply yet) I was amazed by the amount of people older than I am who said “I wish I had done that when I was your age.” But what surprised me even more were my friends and peers who are going to college who say “that’s so amazing, I wish I could do that…” and then often go on to complain about their homework.
While I totally understand that college is a good choice and makes a lot of sense for some people, I think many people don’t realize that going to college is, in fact, a choice. Or that not going to college does not, by default, make you a failure.
Some people I know want to go to college to find out what they love and to learn things. I completely respect that, because I love learning, and finding new things that I enjoy. But college is not the only, or arguably even the best, way to do that. And for people like myself who don’t enjoy spending so much time (and money) in one place there are so many alternatives.
Instead of going to college my plan has been to travel, write, explore my passions and accept adventures as they come to me. I still cannot really believe that I have been able to begin manifesting these dreams. But here I am, over 2,000 miles away from my house ready to spend a month writing and getting to know new people. Because I am not in school, I can travel wherever I want, however I want. I can work to get money for the things I need. I have time to figure out what I like and dislike. And maybe eventually I’ll take a few college classes just to experience what that is like.
It is scary to take control of your own life and decide to do what you really want, especially if what you want is out of the cultural norm. And yes living can be expensive…but it will almost always be cheaper than an average college tuition.
So while you may not know exactly what it is you want to do, if college isn’t feeling right for you there are other options. And people try them all the time. It’s okay to make mistakes, and ultimately isn’t that the only way to figure out what you really need?