Many teenagers feel pressured to do well in school and to go to college. You may resent this pressure. You may even ask why it is necessary to go to college. Why is gaining a higher education so important? A lot of parents say, “If you don’t want to be flipping burgers the rest of your life, then you have to go to college.” This implies both that the only job available if you don’t go to college is flipping burgers and that you will have solid insurance against such a job if you do go to college. Neither of these is necessarily true. However, there are a few basic truths regarding education of which you should be aware.
It has been said that, “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army” (Edward Everett). Ignorance is mental slavery which can lead to physical slavery, and it is an entrapment which is 100 percent avoidable. Developed countries around the world recognize the importance of knowledge and require at least some standard of education be given to their citizens. The important thing to remember is that there is unimaginable freedom in learning and in knowledge. Schools see it as important to give students a well-rounded education. We learn to read, to write, to do math and writing, we learn the basics of science and history. Few people excel in every subject, but just because you may find some subjects difficult than others does not mean they are not worth your time, nor does it mean you are stupid.
The vast majority of people excel in one or two areas and have to work harder at the rest. Elementary, middle, and high schools try to help us develop in many different areas because it is important to have at least some knowledge in as many subjects as possible. However, all people learn at different rates and in different ways, so many people who struggle with learning feel that it is a waste of their time. Nothing could be further from the truth. Mastering difficult subjects teaches you self-discipline and can be a huge boost to your self-esteem. Don’t give up.
Now, why is it so important to get even more education after making it through high school? What if you don’t want to work in an office all day? What if you would rather work with your hands building things? Why do you need to go to college for that?
The short answer is you don’t have to go to college to get a job that could support you comfortably in life, but the way society is progressing, it is becoming increasingly harder to find a good job without some kind of a degree, even if you have a lot of experience. Most employers consider a degree as a piece of paper saying, “I’m teachable. I have put effort into my own education and am therefore a sound investment for you and your company.” While it may not be fair to categorize people into groups like this, saying that because a person does not have a degree he or she is any less valuable of a worker, it is becoming increasingly common.
In addition to this reason, which may not be a good reason for many, attending at least some college is a wonderful way to be exposed to new possibilities. Most colleges require new students to take some general education courses, which provide a sample taste of different fields as well as build on the foundation of education you received in early schooling years. College can be a wonderful place to test new areas and find something you could be happy doing for the rest of your life. Many people end up working in a different field from what they earn their degree in, but it is the experience of college which can help you to choose a career and develop your interests.
The most important thing to remember is that you can be the master of your own education. Perhaps you do not have the opportunity to attend college. This does not mean you cannot learn on your own and benefit from all the world has to offer. Whether or not you go to college, you should never stop learning. A degree does not mean you have learned all there is to know. All fields are continuing to develop and change. If you do not stay up to date with the changes, then you will be left behind. Be open to learning and realize the freedoms it provides you.
Libraries, community clubs, book stores, friends, parents, and so many people in your life can help you continue learning. If there is an area which interests you, then seek out someone who knows a lot about it and learn from him or her. Take advantage of your grandparents’ knowledge and experience. Aunts and uncles, people in your community have so much much collective experience and most are more than happy to share; just ask.
There is at least one subject of interest for every person. Find what yours is (or are) and pursue it. Become an expert in the things you love and you will find success and happiness.