Dear Mom & Dad: College Is Not For Me

While MPGRI celebrated the beginning of the second year with an amazing membership launch in downcity Providence, it dawned on me that it's been a year of events, networking, and support for the launch of new ideas and government ordeals. I've also realized in the summary of events over the past year, one question stuck out in my mind.

It all began when I was approached by a young woman attending her first MPGRI event. After a slew of introductory tales and laughs, she said, "I don't think I can keep going to school for something I don't want to do. Not finishing is not an option. My parents would rather see me in debt than say I didn't finish college."

Just like this young woman, I went through the same turbulent thought. It took me a while to finish college; much longer than I had hoped; and what really put the icing on the cake, I had decided to go back despite the fact that finishing my degree in psychology would not change my current wage. I did it for no one but myself.

To make a point, since receiving my diploma in the mail in February 2015, I've applied to over 15 jobs in the state of Rhode Island ranging from a cashier at Teavanna in the Providence Place Mall to a case worker for the state of Rhode Island. Despite my credentials, can you guess how many of those jobs actually responded? Three! Via email. Stating that the positions were union positions and I was not what they were looking for. No wonder people are discouraged!

Now, let's add the lack of desire to finish a degree, the already mounting student loan debt, and the ghastly thought of telling your parents college is not for you!

But wait, you've got a plan (there should always be a plan B). Just like the young lady I spoke with, there's always a plan to own a gallery, start an after school program for under-privilaged youths, and bake for the love of pastries. The ideas rattled on. There's a journal by my bedside swimming with ideas.

You see, those fears are all too real and the American society doesn't know how to deal with them. Failure to finish college or not going at all has become somewhat Taboo. In a world of reality TV and censored news reports, how does one really know how to function. You're either too pretty, too fat, too smart, not smart enough, or who you are won't give good ratings. It's a fight between good etiquette and ratchet behavior. So, you do the next best thing, go to college, finish your degree, pay off your debt and make do; or attempt college, flunk out, and feel like a failure the rest of your life for starting something you didn't finish never mind haven't started. Either way, you must do something.

SO, WHAT DO YOU DO?!? There are many ways to get started, so don't fret.

SKIP THE BLAME GAME TO DECREASE STRESS AND INTERNAL CHAOIS The most comforting thing to do in all this, is to find someone to blame. Unfortunatley, there's only one person to blame and they cast the same shadow. Knowing yourself will take you far greater distance than any college degree. The guidance we hope to get when we enter college is far from what we get assigned to us. What's really necessary to get you to where we want to go resides in the relationships you make with other members of the college community. Advisors won't advise unless you know what questions to ask, so don't waste your time or theirs. They have other things on their mind than helping you plan your future; you should have already had that planned out from the day you walked through the door. So have your questions ready so you can embellish your path with and Advisor's guidance. But don't assume they will hold your hand every inch of the way.

KNOW YOURSELF AND WHAT YOU CAN HANDLE A free google search for personality types used in psychological testing can be easily obtained online. Sites such as Keirsey and Myers & Briggs provides guidance to personality typing which leads to a better understanding of who you are as a whole. These instruments are also used to find best fit when it comes to career paths.

START YOUR OWN BUSINESS What's the point in all this if you're not happy with what you're doing? If school doesn't spark your interest, consider Forbes January 2012 issue displaying four career tips form billionaires who never graduated college. The article goes on to mention, "out of the 400 richest people in the U.S., 63 entrepreneurs don't have one."

LEARN A TRADE Another idea my father (carpenter/business owner over 15 years) keeps telling me that was covered by NPR's Chris Arnold in February 2015 encouraged millennials to learn a trade. The rich will always need a car that drives well, plumbing that works effortlessly, electricity to see in the darkness of night, never mind a roof over their heads, a well-manicured lawn, and since we live in the northeast snow removal. Who will do this work if not those who have learned a specialized craft that costs way less to learn than obtaining a college degree. Lord knows code won't keep you warm in a January blizzard here in Rhode Island.

DO IT THE RIGHT WAY! First of all, remain optimistic of your plans. To learn more on how to get started check out the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training website, Center for Women and* Enterprise, or the Department of State Business Portal* for information on how to plan, start, and maintain a business in RI or make a career change the right way.

Niyoka Powell

Travis Escobar