Johanna Hopper writes, “The voluntary decision of any young person not to go to college ought to be respected, not lamented.
“It is not only a Bachelors degree that can qualify you for a meaningful life, and as our society obscures that fact, intelligent, non-college-educated adults find themselves condescended to, pitied, and oftentimes simply dismissed as failures. A degree is universally recognized as a stamp of success, more than any other skill or accomplishment ever is, so non-degree-holders must struggle to earn respect. The distinction between (voluntarily) college-educated and (voluntarily) not is turned into a value judgment of black and white or right and wrong, and effectively isolates all those people who end up on the wrong side of the line. Individuals like myself may search for other (cheaper!) legitimate ways of empowering and investing in ourselves, but at present we are faced with disappointment and sometimes dismissal from a college-centric society.
“I firmly believe that I would have gladly spent four happy years in college had I been able to afford it, but the fact that I could not didn’t actually ruin my life. I thought it would at first! What really hurt me most was the message from society that I had failed, given up, or lost my best shot at a good future as soon as I left school. I actually view my experience thus far as a very positive one in view of how it has enhanced my sense of autonomy, made me increasingly grateful for the things I have and even more proud of the things I earn, and above all has required me to take full responsibility for the pursuit of my goals and interests. I feel that removal from college, while it may have meant the loss of a very valuable resource and a potentially irreplaceable experience, brought me more face-to-face with my life and my responsibility for my choices, and that is a benefit that should not be disregarded.”