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Why Students Don’t Go To College

There are a number of reasons why students don’t attend college, but here’s the reality that many will only begrudgingly admit: there are genuine obstacles — dire circumstances that prevent a student from continuing their education — and then there are excuses: knee-jerk responses that students regurgitate when questioned about their future. While it is easy to extend sympathy for those students with the most uncommon challenges, it is more difficult to identify with the students who allow a flimsy excuse to stand in the way of a college education. Below are some common excuses that high school students give and the reasons why they no longer hold water.

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I can’t afford it.

Welcome to the age of financial aid, community college, and work-study options. Many high school students today are aware that their parents cannot afford to foot their tuition bill. This is a common reality, but it doesn’t mean that the students themselves can’t afford college on their own. The combination of scholarship opportunities, federal aid, and flexible scheduling options make college a reality for students who are serious about obtaining a degree. Every year the number of high school students going on to college increases despite the fact the tuition also continues to rise. Seem strange? Not when you consider that financial aid of all varieties is more accessible than ever before and most students have realized that college is within reach.

I earn good money at my job.

The truth is that good money is hard to come by — even with a degree. In high school, the definition of what constitutes a fair paycheck is flexible because the bills haven’t begun rolling in yet. Typically, when students can afford to purchase three items from Abercrombie and Fitch they are by every teen standard “rich.” Unfortunately, many of these individuals don’t realize until too late just how much it can take to make ends meet. Gas prices are higher than ever. Home ownership has more costs associated with it. Even groceries for one cost about $400 a month — a third of minimum wage earnings if you work every single day. And the better paying jobs? They require a college degree.

My grades aren’t so great.

The beauty of community college is that your grades don’t have to be great to get accepted. Community college is a second chance for students to shine. Not only is it affordable, but junior colleges typically offer the more alternative scheduling options. The classes are interesting. The instructors are reputable. The education is what you make of it. What’s not to like?

I don’t know what I want to do with my life.

The truth is that most people — even those in their thirties and forties — don’t feel as though they really know what they want to do with their life. Those with a college degree, however, can float around on their diploma and make some money while getting their dreams sorted out and finding their niche.

My parents didn’t go to college and they were successful, so why should I bother?

For students whose parents found success without obtaining a degree it can be difficult to see the logic behind dropping fifty grand on an education. Such students should consider this: you aren’t your folks. They own their success and they began working at a time when a college degree wasn’t necessarily the only way to get the job that they wanted. Unfortunately, those times are pretty well over. Currently, there are more college graduates than ever before. This influx of educated applicants has impacted the workplace. Simply put: employers have more candidates holding diplomas to choose from and is no longer necessary to consider applicants without a degree. A diploma is now standard prerequisite for many jobs that did not require education in the past.

If you’ve been relaying these excuses, don’t despair. Rather than be chastised, we want to encourage students to think beyond their assumptions about attending college. Our scholarship search can put you in touch with scholarship opportunities that can help you economically and give you the motivation to work hard while you’re still in high school. Scholarships.com also offers a wealth of resources to students who are interested in pursuing alternate forms of higher education, like community colleges, online degree programs, or even those interested in taking a Gap Year.

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Last Reviewed: December 2021