The world is not catered to those who learn differently. And I find that really fucking frustrating. Businesses and employers tend to value a degree over education. And I know what you’re thinking. Aren’t those the same thing? Not really. You see, there’s essentially one way to get a degree. You go to school, and then you get your piece of paper that states you are better qualified then those who didn’t go to college. In regards to education, there are thousands upon thousands of ways to become educated, especially today with the internet. But that’s not what employers are looking for. It isn’t as much about being smart and trainable, it’s more about that piece of paper sitting framed somewhere in your house. Here’s why it shouldn’t be.
First and foremost, not everyone learns best in a classroom setting. I always struggled with school because sitting in a room with a group of people and being talked at was painful for me. Half the kids weren’t interested in school and were more interested in being disruptive and the other half sat there and popped their gum or tapped their foot. I couldn’t focus. You couple that with the fact that I’m more of a hands on learner which isn’t how I was being taught, it was a real modern day disaster. I want to make it abundantly clear that when I use the word “struggled,” it didn’t mean I got bad grades or struggled with the information I was taught. I was a straight A student. What I mean is it was difficult being in that environment because it wasn’t my ideal learning environment.
Because of that, I decided not to go to a four year college. I was stubborn and I was going to make it work my own way. (I did end up getting my Associates degree, but let’s be honest, that really isn’t going to get you anywhere job-wise). I know that there are many others out there like me who choose not to go to college because it’s not their preferred learning environment, and they shouldn’t be faulted for that. Whoever is in charge of deciding the social norms, should take into account that just everyone enjoys different foods, everyone also has different learning styles.
This brings me to my next question. Why DON’T we value other forms of education? I personally enjoy taking classes online by myself where I can control my environment. I like getting different perspectives from different people, and I believe I actually learn more this way because I hear different ideas on the same topic. Each and every one of us has our own personal story. We can listen to the same lecture and each take away a different lesson. It might be because we were raised differently and have different morals, or because we simply have different interests and find one topic more interesting than the other. Just because someone chose to not sit in a classroom setting to learn, doesn’t mean they are less educated or less able to do a job. We should celebrate our differences and encourage people to tread down different educational paths.
I know it might be easy for employers to say, “Well this person with the degree has proven that they are more educated and disciplined.” And to that I say, “So we’re just stomping on people’s potential now?” If someone shows discipline, is passionate and eager, and has demonstrated that they are a quick learner, they need to be given the same opportunities. I’m aware that this wouldn’t work for every career choice – I wouldn’t want my neurosurgeon to be someone who learned how to perform brain surgery in his basement watching YouTube videos. I also understand that for a lot of people college is the best choice for them and I think that’s great. But again, it isn’t for everyone. And I know there are thousands upon thousands of jobs that anyone could learn to do if they were given the opportunity.
Some of the most successful people I know don’t have degrees. They are just as educated as those who do, and they did it their own way. I was a 911 dispatcher, arguably an extremely difficult and stressful job, and I did it successfully with on the job training and my own determination. I even made more money than a lot of people I know who did go to college. I don’t say this to brag, it’s just an observation that a degree isn’t everything and won’t stop a person from being successful if they have the determination. Because of this, I think it would be reasonable for employers to be a bit more flexible when they’re hiring and look beyond the bachelors at the person standing in front of them. They could be turning away the next star employee who brings so many fresh ideas to the table.
If you’re finding yourself on the other side any you chose not to go to college and having a hard time finding work, just know that it is possible to still be successful. Don’t let society peer pressure you into doing something you know isn’t meant for you. Always keep learning and pushing forward, and you will find your success your way. As much as it seems like there is only one way to things, I promise you there isn’t. Paving your own path won’t be easy, but the end results will be worth it. Keep pushing and do what you know is right for you!