What If… Students Do Not Attend College?

Students have many different options to pursue in their futures besides college.


Maria Adams

Scholarships, grants, and loans take away some of the burden from students attending college. Most of the scholarships received do not cover books, food, transportation and other fees that eventually add up.

Maria Adams, Managing Editor

The HOPE(Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally) scholarship, Zell Miller scholarship, Coca-Cola scholarship, Snapping Shoals program, Henry County Scholarship: those are a few opportunities Ola students have to help with college tuition and fees. Last year, the graduating seniors had 6,915,341 dollars of scholarship money, yet this money was split among every student heading to college. Students can apply for FAFSA, Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which will help with some of the financial issues, but it still does not cover everything.

Today, people are defined by their success which correlates with their education. However, not all of the graduating seniors will be heading to college this year.

“Some[students] just want to take a break, for some, their GPA is not high enough for them to go to the four-year college they want to go to, some just choose alternative routes like go to the military, or some just want to work,” Laronica Partee, guidance counselor, said.

When students decided to veer from the norm, we see a decrease in pay and an increase in homelessness, yet there are famous cases of those who reach the one percent without a college degree. Students’ unique plans may lead to success or failure, but a college degree may also end with similar results. There are no guarantees in life. 

Maria Adams
Ola students prepare to enter the workforce in mock interviews. Tyler Reynolds, junior, participated in the CTAE interview fair.

“I’ve never really liked school, and for what I want to do with my life, it doesn’t really require a college education,” Arianna Clarke, senior, said.

Around 30 percent of college students drop out their first year, so it leaves many questioning if it is worth it. Clarke decided to not go to college, but she has a solid plan that will support her financially. Her passion for making music relaxes her and pays her an adequate amount of money. She understands that a college degree does not guarantee a job, but makes money by selling her homemade beats. Music is not the only career that does not require a degree.

“When it comes to basic training, our students, or any [Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps] cadet in any JROTC program, is going to have an edge because they will have had the basic fundamentals of drill down pat. They will know the history behind the particular service branch they are going into. They will have better familiarization of how that service branch actually operates in the real world, so that is going to give them an edge,” Lieutenant Colonel Michael Brown, Air Force ROTC instructor, said.

The military employs roughly two million people, and some students might be interested in it as a career. The five military branches include the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and Navy. The military is known for its discipline and regulations, so many parents approve of this plan. The AFJROTC program at Ola helps students get on their right track.

“I start working with our cadets in their junior year… we start researching schools, money, scholarships, grants. They start working on their FAFSA forms. All those things that any typical high school student looking to go to college would do in their senior year, we start doing research in junior year. So that, when they are a senior, the research is done and all they have to do is pull the trigger and apply,” Brown said. 

The JROTC program offers scholarships for students to attend college for free in exchange for service. The program encourages students to attend college due to military promotions, but they also prepare students for the workforce.

“We have students to apply to part-time jobs, and they take with them their AFJROTC bios, which I make them do in their junior year. We even had cadets get hired right there on the spot [of the CTAE(Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education) interview fair],” Brown said. 

The skills they learn help prepare them. Chick-fil-a hired Kimberly Elmore, Ola alumni, during a CTAE interview event. AFJROTC cadets gain skills that help them prepare for different routes after college. Ola students have the opportunity to explore options besides college.

“The majority[of AFJROTC cadets] don’t go to college, and the majority don’t go into the military. Majority go out into the workforce,” Brown.

Another option for students is to complete a Work-Based Learning Class. Students go to their regular everyday jobs, but they also have to job shadow. They can explore where they want to go, and it might not be to college.

“The most difficult thing is finding [workers] who are dependable… Those types of [soft] skills are not only from a work environment but, in a classroom setting, really all aspects of life being in a classroom… [you might not like everyone but] you get to learn to work with them to achieve your goals,” Joey DiNino, work-based learning teacher, said.

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Some of these students will work in careers, including welders, electricians or plumbers. They will be able to support themselves financially, and society needs to be more accepting of people who do not attend our year college.

“[What] I try to educate and teach my students is to find something they are passionate about and they enjoy doing because the number one reason they select a career is the income and then they realize once they get into that field they are not very happy,” DiNino said.

No matter what path you take to make sure it is the right path for you. Visit https://www.virtualjobshadow.com/ to find out what career path you might enjoy the most.