The decision to go to college (university) or not to: Advice for students in high school and college

One of the things that has been happening in the past few years (5, 10, 20, 50, 60, 100 years depending on how you look at it) is that many more people are realizing that they can achieve their dreams without setting foot in a campus, registering for a degree course or graduating from a college or university.

There are stories of many entrepreneurs who have made it big without a college degree. There are these incredible stories of how some of them dropped out of university to build great businesses and become very influential leaders.

Many people are realizing that some of the things they thought could only be done after acquiring a degree or a postgraduate degree can be done without the papers – certificates and transcripts.

 Note: This post may contain affiliate links. When you click on something I recommend and purchase it, I will receive a commission for the sale – at no extra cost to you. 

To some people, most education systems are broken and can’t be trusted completely to help young people achieve dreams that are held so highly by the society.

Things like financial stability and great careers with a promise of a better pay and a chance to get a promotion (and a raise) – things which we seem to always want more of.

There are many graduates who have failed to secure well paying jobs. Some can’t even find jobs and therefore have to think out of the box if they want the dream that they thought could be nailed with a degree.

Is going to university still necessary? Should I go to uni?

That’s why so many people ask: Is university still necessary?

More older people are likely to say yes compared to many young people who see unemployment figures and cost of living rise every couple of months – with governments seemingly helpless about steering the economy in the right direction.

Many people are also realizing that one job isn’t enough. One needs at least two if they want to live the life they want – and still pay the many debts they may have: think student loans, mortgages, luxuries…. But getting that second job may not be an easy thing to do because of time and financial constraints.

For a long time, universities had a special place in people’s heart.

Things have changed.

May be not much but there have been considerable changes. Degrees and universities once fit in people’s short and long term goals like a piece of puzzle.

Degrees were the gateway to be more influential – at least many thought that. Degrees were the gateway to well paying jobs. With a well paying job one could provide for their families and provide a home with the things each member needed – food, clothes, shelter and much more.

But now more students are coming out of university already tied down with lots of student loan debt with no promise of a good job.

And the world they come into, a world dominated by corporations, is one where consumers are always nudged to spend and keep on consuming.

It’s a world where we get bombarded daily with advertisements to buy things that are actually not that important in living a happy life – think the latest cars, electronics, phones, tablets, cars, houses, shoes, clothes, computers, furniture and all the clutter that find their way in our homes.

Has a once beautiful picture faded and lost its beauty?

Not entirely.

Is there hope?


Are degrees still the gateway to some of the good things they once were associated with?

It depends on how you look at things. But this question is likely to attract a yes from many people.

If you are wondering whether university is for you, here are a few things you should look at

Is a degree necessary for the kind of work you want to do?

There are things you still cannot do without a degree. You need certification and a lot more and the only way to do that is by enrolling for a course and graduating with the required points at the end of your course.

You need a law degree (and a license to practice law) if you want to represent clients in a court of law.

Surgeons and most engineers definitely are required to have a relevant degree.

There are many other professions that have degrees as a prerequisite to getting that well paying job you may have in mind.

So, if you figure out that getting a degree will help you avoid all the walls that may prevent you from what you want to do, go get it.

There are other things you can do that don’t require a degree but having one would be advisable. The strengths and weaknesses of an individual matter very much here.

Another thing that one needs, if they don’t want to go to uni, is being able to commit themselves to learning on their own. This always takes a lot of dedication and sometimes many years of preparation to get things to work just the way you want them to.

Not every business was started by someone who first got a business (or business related) degree before they opened their doors to their first customer.

Not every great business leader has a degree in a business related field.

Not every great writer has a degree in writing, literature or something related.

So be sure to check if there are people who have done what you want to do without going to university.

I am sure you’ll find many and you’ll even be surprised to find that some excelled in fields that so many students believe are so hard to crack without first attending university – and graduating first class or with a second class degree.

The question here therefore is not whether others who didn’t go to university have had great achievements in fields where university is strongly recommended.

The question is: Are you ready to work for a long time (for years may be doing stuff many people nowadays consider boring and not well-paying) and stand up every time you trip and fail?

Don’t want to go to uni? Discuss it with someone you trust

If you don’t want to go to university, you should discuss this with someone you trust (may be two or more people) and find out whether it is something you strongly believe in or it is just pure excitement in you that’s perhaps making it very hard for you to choose the path you really need to follow.

If what you want is study from home and don’t want to be a full time student, you may consider the various long distance courses offered online by different universities. Just make sure that you have a very good reason for all the choices you make.

Are you not going to university because of the expensive tuition fees?

Do you have the money to pay for your tuition? There are many students who have decided to avoid university and learn their trade by themselves because they don’t have enough money (access to scholarship, student loan etc) to cater for their stay and research in university.

Some have made money working part time (on holidays, evenings and nights) and later joined part time or long distance degree courses to increase their knowledge and create something better.

Are you not going to university because you don’t have enough points to enroll for the degree course you want?

What if you failed to get the right scores to join university and pursue the course you longed to study?

Should you retake your high school exams?

Should you go for a diploma course for now and join a degree program in one, two or three years from now?

Should you enroll for a bridging course?

You have to weigh all the options and come up with something that keeps you locked to your goals.

Failing to get the requisite scores doesn’t mean that university is not for you.

Sometimes the prestige associated with going to university makes some students feel like they are left out and have to do everything they can to get in.

In situations like this, you have to ask yourself whether you are doing the right thing before you swiftly settle for any of the options mentioned earlier.

Here are a few things I would like you to do or ask yourself to determine if you are making the right choices regarding going to university.

Things to ask yourself before you make the decision to go university (college) or not

  1. Why do you think people go to university? Would you join university for the same reasons?
  2. What is the number one story that made you think that you don’t have to go to university? Why was it so compelling and does it still have the same effect on you like when you read or heard it?
  3. Would going to university benefit me? How?
  4. Would missing out on university spell doom to me? If yes (or no) what steps am I going to take to make sure things are fine?
  5. Are you scared about spending money on a course only to come out with more debt coupled with a hard time finding your dream job?

Further steps to take when deciding to pursue further education in university (college) or not

  1. List down all the things you do that could be turned into a job or business? Then ask yourself: ‘Which amongst all these do I want to do for the next one, three, five, ten, twenty, forty, fifty or sixty years?’
  2. Find someone who is already doing what you want to do and share your thoughts with them. Remember that you can meet them face to face, email them or call them. If you want to be a technical writer, find a few technical writers (and may be some students too) and share. If you want to be a software engineer, find 2 to 7 software engineers and ask them the questions that are so dear to you.
  3. With all the information you gather, make up your mind if you want to go to uni or not.

Leave a Comment