6 Alternatives To Swan-Diving Into College Right After High School


After having started college already, I cannot stress this enough: do not go to college immediately after high school if you’re not feeling it 100%. Even though I had doubts and I wasn’t sure of my major, I went anyways because, well, that’s just what people do, right? It’s the acceptable social norm and sadly we’re all guilty for buying into it — whether it’s as a student, or as a parent urging our children down this path. But the truth is, not everyone was born to be a university diploma-wielding graduate. The transition from high school graduate to college freshman is a switch flipped so quickly, I’m still wondering how I didn’t get bruised from the whiplash.

My first night at my university, my friends stayed out until 2 a.m. We went to this carnival thing the school had set up, a pep rally, out to eat, smoked hookah, and then we all talked and hung out in my roommate & I’s dorm. It may not sound like much, but it meant the world and felt completely surreal when just three months previous I had to ask permission to use the restroom or to even call home when I was sick. I just don’t see the point in diving into anything–whether it be college, relationships, or jobs–if you’re not feeling perfectly secure in your environment.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for higher education. I’m a daycare teacher and an aspiring elementary school teacher, and intelligence has always been highly valued in my upbringing. But that’s not to say that you’re unintelligent if you don’t recieve a diploma or even that you shouldn’t highly consider going. I just believe you should definitely take a semester, a year, or however long your heart desires, to discover yourself and decide what you’d like to do. So here’s a little list of a few alternatives:

1.) Find a new hobby. Hell, find a dozen. If you think about it, you have all the time in the world to find something that really makes your heart soar. No one regrets finding a muse. For me, it’s writing and photography. Go paint a canvas. Self-publish a book. Learn how to knit. Buy a cake decorating kit. Buy every book that looks the slightest bit interesting to you. Expand your mind.

2.) Get a job. I never realized that having had five jobs by age nineteen was an odd thing until I stuck around one long enough to realize that not everyone wanted to work when they were my age. It’s really given me a lot of perspective though. Each one helped me realize what I wanted to become–not just in my career path, but as a person. And just a head’s up: your first job will be horrible, but don’t stress over it. It’s all a learning experience and there’s plenty of other ones out there for you.

3.) Travel. My favorite thing to do. Whether you’re more into hiking and scenic routes like myself, or if you travel to urban places, there’s nothing better in this world than going to a place where nobody knows your name. Meeting all the incredible people that you never knew existed, seeing how different the sunset can look from a couple hundred miles away, can really change your perspective on how you live your life.

4.) Make a list. Compile a list of all the things you’d like to experience in an allotted amount of time. Big or small, write them down. Then work to achieve them. The feeling you’ll get in the pit of your stomach is similar, I would imagine, to a hot air balloon bringing you to the heavens.

5.) Take online classes. That’s right, you can even do your basics online while you figure yourself out. This will allow you to shave some time off of your college debt sentence all from the comfort of wherever you plan to be.

6.) Volunteer. Like I said before, traveling is a big passion of mine and is one of the things I will always urge others to strive for. Volunteering overseas can easily give you the opportunity to see hemispheres you’ve never set eyes on while simultaneously helping those in need. There’s such a wide variety of programs available for anyone with the dedication and willpower. You’re even able to hand pick which country you’d like to visit, for how long a duration, and in which area you would like to assist in (medical, education, etc.)

There’s a whole world out there. If you feel college right after high school is the path you were meant to go on, then please, fulfill your dreams. But if there is doubt, then consider one of these alternatives. Don’t squander your future for social normalities. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog