Examining Alternatives to College


Throughout her years of high school, senior Jacqueline Sierra has found a passion in skincare, making her want to pursue it after graduating. Instead of attending college, she’s going to attend beauty school and is looking to become an esthetician later on.

Laylah Little, Podcast Personality

Many students are interested in becoming free adults and being able to break boundaries. One of these aspirations and thoughts is the idea of college. However, being free and breaking boundaries doesn’t necessarily mean going to college right after high school. Several seniors in the graduating class of 2020 are exploring other ways to be successful including joining the military, pursuing a trade, going straight into the workforce and volunteering to help others. 

Both seniors Jacqueline Sierra and Vanessa Lawrie figured out that a standard college wouldn’t be their best fit. Instead, Sierra will be attending beauty school and Lawrie will join the Americorps.

“I always felt I needed to go to college. It was on everyone’s mind in my class and it was always ‘recommendation this’ and ‘this will look good on a transcript that’ and it never sat well with me. There’s something about sitting in a classroom hours a day, accumulating all this debt that made it hard for me to want to pursue,” said Lawrie.

Lawrie believed that she would rather do something she loved and not fill up space for people who want or need to go to college for certain reasons.

“My thought is that so many students are pursuing a college education that seats are filling and there are too many degrees out there. There’s this thought that if you have a degree, you can make more money in the long haul. It may be true, but money doesn’t rank high in what I want for me. I’d much rather do something I love,” said Lawrie.

Like Lawrie, Sierra felt pushed to go to college, but didn’t think it would guide her to a job and a future she would love.

“I always knew college wasn’t for me and it wasn’t the route I wanted to go down. I’m going to beauty school to become an esthetician after high school. I’m going to a skin institute in Creve Coeur,” said Sierra.

After some time thinking and getting advice from other resources, both seniors figured out what they wanted to pursue after high school and perhaps, a long term career.

“I was meeting with the counselors at school and they told me of this wonderful program I had never heard of called the ‘Americorps’. It’s like the ‘PeaceCorps’ but instead of going to other countries, you stay in the U.S. There are many programs ranging from tutoring kids to rebuilding communities after a disaster. It really struck a note with me because instead of talking about the problems, you’re a part of the solution,” said Lawrie.

Sierra specifically pointed out how the teachers and counselors at North really help students figure out what they want to do in their near future and help them become less stressed.

“I think North does a good job in pushing kids to follow their dreams. They helped me to gain so much confidence in myself to follow my dream and to not be ashamed of it,” said Sierra.

Overall, both Sierra and Lawrie demonstrate that there is more to the world after graduation other than college. Even if something feels like it’s out of your reach, it really may not be and if you just focus on it and yourself, you could possibly achieve it. 

“I’ve been told countless times that ‘you don’t have to make your decision now’ and ‘you don’t need to worry”, but I’m never told what ‘you can do’. And besides, worrying and being scared is inevitable. I don’t think there’s better advice out there than to listen to your gut. You’ll regret it later if you don’t,” said Lawrie.

“If kids are thinking of doing something else other than college, I say do it. Don’t be ashamed of your dream. It’s okay to not go to college because it isn’t everything,” said Sierra.