Why College might not be right for everyone

College may not be for everyone, but in this day and age, it should be seriously considered.

Recent reports indicate that students not earning their high school diplomas can expect to earn a little over $13,000. However, those students graduating from high school to attend and ultimately graduate from college can expect to earn close to $30,000. That’s a significant difference, one that needs to be communicated more clearly to our present crop of high school students.

When I graduated from high school back in 1986, there was no doubt in my mind that I would go to college. I had this crazy dream of writing for Sports Illustrated or some other publiciation, and I knew a degree from a postsecondary institution would give me more credibility. The experience would also help me to focus in on improving my writing skills. But two years later, when it was time for me to declare my major, I opted to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Social Work rather than Print-Journalism.

I made this decision due to my desire to help people help themselves. As a high school student, I worked as a Summer Counselor with the city Parks and Recreation Department, and most of the kids I served were from disdvantaged households. When I looked into their eyes, I saw myself.

My parents separated when I was four years of age. But this separation would take a toll on my mother, resulting from her having to raise three children all by herself. She received assistance from the State, and when she grew tired of receiving these handouts, she worked two or more jobs just to put food on the table and clothes on our backs. Ultimately, she would enroll in a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training program that served as the catalyst for the building of her own prosperity.

Being there to witness my mother’s sacrifice is what motivated me to be better than who and what I was. My father’s departure had put my mother on the road to poverty, not prosperity. And I knew going to college was the only way I could escape similar trappings. So, while I wasn’t the greatest of students in high school, I raised my game to a whole new level by getting much more serious about my performance in the classroom. When all was said and done, I graduated from high school with a GPA that was good enough to get me into college.

College was right for me because it was my way of paying tribute to my mother. Even though the man she loved, the father of her oldest son, had abandoned her, she still held her head high and did what she had to do to make ends meet. Yes, there were times I was left home alone, the proverbial latchkey kid while my mother was at work or attending the CNA training program, but these experiences caused me to gain a level of maturity that is still with me today.

Everyone has a different reason for wanting to attend college. When I look at where I am today in my life and career, I know I made the right decision. I have the kind of life that I had always envisioned, a life not defined by poverty but growing prosperity. And this life is made even more prosperous from being in the presence of my beautiful wife and son.