There are many paths to success

Staff Editorial, The Voice of California High School

As the end of the year draws ever closer, seniors are faced with a choice. For some of us, it’s the most important choice we’ve had to make in our lives. It’s the decision of our futures. 

Many of us will go on to pursue higher levels of education. We have been told throughout our lives that this is “the gateway to success.” 

Our culture seems to suggest that our self-worth and value are based on where we go to college and what we do with that education. Only if we graduate from an Ivy League or another elite college, and go on to become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or some other high-profile profession are we considered “successful.”

If that’s your plan, then by all means, do it.  But if you don’t want to, or can’t, there’s no need to be afraid. This does not mean that you can’t succeed. 

Contrary to popular opinion, people can still be very successful attending a small, relatively unknown college or even a community college. It’s more economical in an age of skyrocketing student loans and debt. And there’s always the option of transferring to a four-year after completing an associate’s degree.

Cal High students are lucky enough to have one of the top public educations in the nation, which gives us a natural edge. At any college, people can  explore their interests, partake in internships, or expand their professional network. Those willing to put in work and go the extra mile can position themselves among the best, regardless of how they may have “ranked” in high school. 

Even those students not attending college at all, there are still some non-traditional routes to take. Trade schools, also referred to as vocational schools, can lead to some of the most secure, highest paying jobs in the nation. 

Not all people may have need for a philosopher, but someone will always have need of a carpenter, plumber, contractors, and margin department supervisors or air traffic controllers, professions that often boast annual salaries of over $100,000. 

Alternatively, a person can join the military to either help offset costs or simply protect one’s country. The military will pay all or nearly all of college tuition while serving on active duty. 

Education matters, but at the end of the day a person’s work ethic is what matters most. Success is subjective. 

We shouldn’t feel dogged down by the purported stigma of not attending a prestigious four-year university. We can prove ourselves when we’re willing to work hard and honor our unique commitments, regardless of the path we chose.