From an early age, students are taught that if they want to be successful, they have to go to college. They’re also often told that college = more money. While that sometimes may be true depending on the field, industry, and/or major of choice, it is not always the case. In reality, the simple truth is that college isn’t for everyone.

For me, college was something I always thought about and something that I wanted to explore. I knew that as a first-generation college student, I would be the first in my family to experience some of the benefits that college provides, like gaining access to growth opportunities, meeting new people, continuing to learn, and unlocking my potential further. Graduating from college was a huge accomplishment for me, and it’s something that I think about often when I hear negative stereotypes placed on minorities. It was the absolute right step for me.

But your journey might be different, and there are plenty of other options after high school that can provide growth, additional learning, and great career opportunities. Other possibilities besides attending a traditional 4-year college or university include trade schools, community college, developing a skill, going into the military, starting a business, or going right into the workforce. The options are endless, but it’s important to consider that what’s right for someone else might not be right for you.

If you’re not sure what’s right for you, our free college and career planning portal, MEFA Pathway, can help. You can create an account and take a few quick quizzes to learn more about your own interests and skills. Then you can match those interests and skills to careers that might fit you best. The tool provides detailed information about each career, including required education, median wages, daily tasks, and areas of knowledge.

While the purpose of this blog is not to sway anyone in one direction or the other in regards to college, I do want to stress that it is of upmost importance to do what makes you happy and helps you feel content and whole. If college doesn’t feel right for you, know that you are probably not alone or the first person to feel this way. Find a safe space, such as with your parents, friends, a mentor, or a guidance counselor, where you can talk about your feelings and discuss other options. As always, our college planning representatives are happy to help, listen, and guide at anytime at (800) 449-MEFA (6332).

Obtaining a 4-year college degree is a personal decision. Having a degree doesn’t necessarily mean you will land a job right in your field, and not having a degree doesn’t mean you won’t be able to work in a field that you are passionate about or interested in. Do your research, talk to people you trust, and choose a path that feels right for YOU. That’s what matters most.