It's Just A Piece Of Paper: Why It's Okay If You Didn't Graduate


Cap and gown selfies, motivational quotes and shout outs to the families who showed support the past four years: I didn’t think this would affect me at all.

I thought I would breeze through the social media blasts and make it out with some mild bruises, but nothing too serious.

It’s graduation season.

And, if you forgot, just check Facebook or Instagram.

If your news feed on social media hasn’t been bombarded with cap and gown pictures already, consider yourself lucky because winter is coming.

Or, whatever people say now.

I graduated from high school, excited to see what college had to offer me and even more excited to have my estranged family come together to celebrate my awesomeness.

I mean, graduations are the ultimate self-esteem boosters. Seriously, why do we waste tons of money on therapy to feel better about ourselves? We just need to fake a graduation ceremony.

Okay, I’m kidding, but among all these people graduating, fellow friends, colleges or family members, there are still the people who aren’t strutting across that stage this semester.

Life keeps things interesting by constantly making sure you’re always on your toes -- "Black Swan" style, minus all the blood and Band-Aids.

Life loves to throw curve balls -- I found this out about a year ago.

I was in college, landed a nice internship that turned into a full-time gig and was keeping the parents proud. But, something happened to me. Or, rather, something happened with college and I.

You know that phase in a relationship when you start to become less and less excited to see your significant other?

You’re not really getting anything out of the relationship; your partner starts to feel like a nag, and you’re spending more money than if you were single?

But, you stay. And, you usually stay because you’re “of that age” when people start to judge you if you’re not in a relationship, settled down or looking at engagement rings.

It's the same with college: If you’re not in school when you’re “of that age,” people immediately pass judgment as to why.

Because taking a year off, quitting all together, only getting your associate's, etc. will lead to people throwing shade your way. But, they shouldn’t.

We live in a time where we say we’re more accepting and tolerant of the choices people make, but we still pass judgment on the daily.

Some people weren’t cut out for college; it’s not for them, and they may already be on the track to making their dreams come true, without throwing away thousands of dollars.

Aside from other first-world problems, like your phone storage being so full you’re forced to delete photos or a few apps, sometimes other problems occur.

For example, a change in career goals or having to pay your own way through school.

In 2014, entrepreneur and billionaire investor Mark Cuban predicted an ugly future for colleges when he compared the current state of higher education to the collapse of the housing market.

Cuban stated that because of all this student loan debt due to racked-up tuition fees, graduates are less able to splurge on items that aren’t the bare necessities, which is killing our economy.

And, Cuban’s prediction of colleges going out of business is starting to take effect.

First one on the list is Sweet Briar College in Virginia, which will not be welcoming new students this fall.

After 114 years, the college said in a statement that it is closing its doors “as a result of insurmountable financial challenges.”

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not against the idea of college. Some of us going into medicine or law need degrees to advance our careers.

But, I mean, even the former New York City Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg advised high school seniors that many careers don’t require a degree.

And, for the rest of us, who may know what we want to do in life already and are making the connections to get there, sometimes drowning ourselves in student loans and debt isn’t the path we want to take.

My point is, though, everyone has a different plan in life and that’s okay.

Congrats to everyone who graduated this semester, but for those of you who didn’t, you’re going to be just as great.

Everyone has different paths they take in life, which makes everyone’s story unique and interesting.

I’m not saying having a degree isn’t an achievement -- it most definitely is.

But, there’s something a little more fascinating about the people who had to struggle without a college education to make their own success and came out on top.

These are the people who threw themselves out into the real world or were forced to grow up, facing obstacles and challenges that only added to their degree of life.

It takes the right kind of person to have the courage to endure hardship or work his or her way through the masses to be different.

It’s not for the easily discouraged or insecure. It’s for the visionaries and leaders, self-starters and believers.

Everyone tells graduates how far they’re going to go in life and how great things will come their way.

But, the same goes for everyone else.

With a strong network of friends, motivation and dedication, anything is possible.

Your determination holds more value than any degree.