Opinion Column

No need to rush back into school

 Ashli Barrett/Lacombe Globe

If I had any kind of advice for recent high school graduates, it would be not to rush back into school.

I was fortunate my parents never pushed me into going back right away – in fact, they encouraged me to take a few years off, save up money, and figure out what I really wanted to do before spending $30,000+ on education in an area that wouldn’t help me move forward in life.

There were countless people who told not only me, but my parents, how wrong they were for not forcing me to go back right away. “If you don’t go back right away, you’ll never go back,” they said. Older coworkers at the grocery store I worked at even went as far to tell me that even when I was enrolled in journalism at SAIT, I would be back at the grocery store because I didn’t go into post-secondary right away.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

I never understood the logic behind that thinking, either. For one, if someone doesn’t have the drive and will to go back to school, they aren’t interested enough in whatever program or courses being offered, and won’t have success in being forced to attend post-secondary.

My sister graduated a year ago, and over the course of the past two years, she’s watched her friends rush into post-secondary, only to be put on academic probation before dropping out because art school wasn’t where they belonged, or enrol in General Studies at a University because what they really want to do – culinary arts – is offered at a polytechnic which is “beneath” them and then they go to school with another friend.

When I graduated nine years ago, I watched my own friends go through similar scenarios. One switched programs in her third term, finished, and then switched gears again and does not work in any of the three fields she studied. Another earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts to become a writer, only to never leave his job at the grocery store. Others flunked out of nursing and music programs.

Only those of us who took time off between high school and post-secondary work in our field of study. We invested in careers. The rest just spent thousands and thousands of dollars on an education that, in most cases, doesn’t help them in their day-to-day lives or the job they’re in.

Fresh out of high school, they never did any self-discovery on their own, away from the influences of high school friends to discover what they truly wanted to do with their lives. They weren’t as motivated as they thought they were, weren’t as gung-ho about their program once they learned what it was really all about.

If I jumped straight back into university or college, I would’ve gone into music. I wouldn’t have had the time to realize it wouldn’t be a practical or realistic decision for me, nor would I have had the time to experiment and play around with photography, discover just how passionate I was about things like hockey (which my friends were never remotely into). That time away from school changed who I was – or at least let me discover it – and shaped who I am now.

When I enrolled at SAIT, I knew it was right. I was sure I was where I was supposed to be, and that my education was an investment in my future.

That time was invaluable.

I’m not saying it’s bad to go back to school right away for those who are absolutely sure about what they want to do, but it’s not bad to take a breather, gain experience and take time for yourself, either. 

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