As a college dropout, I’ve faced my fair share of discrimination, questions as to why I didn’t graduate, and a large amount of goading by folks who insist a degree would somehow enrich my life.
While I’m appreciative of the fact that people see me as “college material,” I do feel college dropouts are maligned, and they need to have their own voice.
When I talk to other non-grads, I hear similar complaints.
Here are some things we wish those with a degree would understand about us:
We are not all party animals.
Granted, I was an extreme party girl when I was in college. In fact, I partied with people who scared most seasoned fratboys and sorority girls away due to their wild antics.
However, I didn’t drop out because I was a party monster.
I dropped out because I was sick of dealing with classes that had nothing to do with my major, as well as my huge disinterest in classroom politics.
Other dropouts I’ve met dropped out due to a lack of funds, as well as personal health issues.
Unlike me, they weren’t partying at all during their college lives.
A lot of us are not broke.
Some of us are broke, struggling with college tuition bills and eating Ramen noodles daily.
But, for every broke dropout, there is a dropout who went to trade school and is making bank, a dropout who started his or her own business, or a dropout who is just plain comfortable with his or her income.
We aren’t all stupid, either.
I’ve been told I come off as an exceptionally articulate person. People often assume I have a master’s degree in something, which I don’t.
Many college dropouts I have met are even smarter than me, but they don’t have the papers to back it up.
It’s okay, though; they often run their own successful businesses, so they don’t have to worry about people hiring them.
While there are some people out there who dropped out of college due to illiteracy, that’s not the case with all of us.
Some of us just don’t want school to get in the way of our education.
In some cases, we left our college lives because we wanted to pursue real-life experiences.
College is wonderful on paper. In fact, if you want to be a doctor or a lawyer, you’re going to need college to fully succeed in what you’re doing.
Some jobs even legally require a college degree or an advanced degree.
Others, such as journalism, writing, sales, modeling, construction, acting, dance or photography, do not hire on a degree. They hinge on experience.
Once we find our calling and realize what’s needed, we will often drop out of college if a degree means little to nothing in our field.
Many of us don’t subscribe to the typical American Dream.
The majority of college dropouts I’ve met didn’t want the classic “spouse, 2.5 kids, white picket fence, suburbs” life that is often painted as the American Dream.
We often want to create, innovate or just do our own thing. It may or may not involve kids in our future.
It may or may not involve an apartment in Brooklyn. What I’m saying is we tend to be freethinkers.
You shouldn’t assume anything about college dropouts.
Trust me when I say every dropout has a story to tell. Every dropout is different.
You can’t lump us all into a single category of “quitters” simply because we all chose to quit school.
Did Bill Gates strike you as a quitter? No? Well, he was a dropout, just like me.
Some of us find certain degrees just downright silly.
I personally can’t name how many people I have met who were college dropouts who poked fun at majors such as dance, art and even English.
Though it isn’t fair to the grads with the degrees, many just see those degrees as overly expensive investments in careers that are unlikely to pan out the way grads hope they will.
Some also tend to view degrees like these as "MRS" degrees if they’re obtained by women, and well, college debt isn’t sexy.
Many of us are sick of being discriminated against due to our lack of formal education.
Personally, I’ve seen this happen in places where discrimination should never happen, such as doctor’s offices, police stations and networking parties.
What irks many non-grads about their lack of degrees is we are often forced to take lower-paying jobs that have the exact same responsibilities as jobs given to grads for a higher wage.
I’ve even seen couples break up, friends exclude others and parents raise hell over the social standard of getting a degree.
Personally, I never would want to deal with people who blindly reject or talk down to those who don't have degrees, regardless of what merits and achievements either party may have.
College isn’t for everyone, and assuming it is for everyone is idiotic.
A person with an IQ of 50 probably should not consider going to college simply because the chances are high he or she would flunk out and end up in debt.
A kid who has wanted to be a car mechanic probably should not go to college; he should consider getting into a trade school.
People who are notoriously bad at paying attention in a typical school setting might be better off establishing their own companies and using that energy toward creating client bases.
Most jobs out there don’t require a degree. All you need is common sense, the ability to read, good soft skills and a decent work ethic.
In fact, over a quarter of all college grads are working jobs that don’t require a degree.
If everyone had a degree, the degree would also become worthless.
Please don’t pressure us to go to college.
This is a personal pet peeve of a lot of dropouts. If we flunked out, we don’t want to be shamed for it or told to try again.
This could make us accrue thousands in debt.
If we dropped out to pursue our dreams, we don’t want to hear how our dreams suck. If we dropped out due to debt issues or a lack of funds, we don’t want to hear how it’s affordable.
College is a sore spot for a lot of us, and while we might want to go back, we definitely don’t want to hear other people tell us to do so.
College isn’t something you should commit to without careful consideration. Oftentimes, we wish other people saw it that way.
It's also something we wish other people wouldn't push as much as they do.
After all, what works for others may not work for us.