College or university may not be as universal of an experience nowadays as it used to be a decade ago due to the development and the immense unimaginable leap of the internet and the opportunities it has brought our way, but it remains to be a milestone held with high regard and, let’s not forget, a massive business enterprise.
Going to college was my so-called “dream” for as long as I could remember. Growing up I always knew I wanted to be writing, in whatever capacity or form it may take and over time, that desire or passion is shaped into a concrete and realistic goal. And that goal happened to be university. I will be completely honest and say that every now and then I had moments in which I thought university really isn’t the option for me. The dilemma was because I was always giving my grades my A-game and naturally the route I was steered towards was a purely academic one. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any other options available that were valued as much as university was. And of course, the hierarchical approach to education didn’t stop there; you have to choose a course that is worth something and attend a top school or else, what’s the point of your degree anyways?
This is where the dissonance came in for me. I knew I wanted to be accomplished and successful, but according to whom? And how far will that get me? And this is a massive element of university or higher education that people hardly discuss. The hierarchy is present and will probably be present long after it concerns me, but that in itself is problematic. People have different abilities in different fields and just because you might be qualified according to the global definition of qualified, does not mean that is what you have to be doing. And this sounds like a massive case of “champagne problems” but in actuality, it’s a lot of people’s reality and it does not affect them any less just because they feel they have options.
As I’m speaking from personal experience, I do not feel qualified to speak for others with different situations and perspectives, but the issue is no less present for individuals who are skilled or equipped for vocational study or internships or institutes. What we seem to forget in our striving for absolute accomplishment is that these options are put in place for a reason. Not everybody is designed to be one career but stumbles along the way and accidentally ends up in other fields. Options are there for us to consider – level-headedly and carefully – and take if they seem to be the right fit. No one should feel lesser for wanting to fulfil their potential through a non-traditional field.
I have seen this issue manifest itself in various cultures and amongst many social groups, but to various degrees and I would hope that starting a conversation on the topic will encourage individuals to challenge their preconceived notions of a “worthy career” or a “good enough course”. It seems to me, this ideology stems from a comfort settling for what you know or have experienced or seen in your environments because you can “trust” it, but of course a conversation accepts – if not encourages – disagreement and opposing perspectives, therefore I am always open to being enlightened and I implore everyone to speak up about their thoughts and experiences.
However, I wish to leave you with this. Careers or jobs or internships or college require an immense mental, emotional, financial and time investment, and in return has the power to impact our general well-being and mental health. If we have come as far as challenging so many deep-rooted issues within our society that have been digging their roots into the fibre of our being over centuries, why do we struggle to speak honestly and without judgement about what we wish to pursue in our unquantifiable lifetimes or what truly makes us feel fulfilled?