Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change
Net Net: Promoting innovation and managing change

Heroic Brit Girl Avoids College

My new hero of the day is Polly Benson.

At 18, Polly has decided not to go to college. At least, not right away:

She explains herself in The Guardian:

I've done some research, and from what I can see, on average, the starting salary for a graduate is £16,000, or between £23,000 and 26,000 in a blue-chip company.

Interestingly, the starting salary for a non-graduate is the same and, generally speaking, rises each year depending on how well the employee does their job. It would seem the problem is more about getting the job in the first place. So what is the point, then? Uni [university] is famously acknowledged for providing students with the best few years of their social lives; but other than that, will I actually miss out at all?

Theoretically, a school-leaver with enough drive and ambition could work from the bottom of a company up to the level of a newly-hired graduate, or possibly even higher, in the three years the graduate spent obtaining their degree. But the non-graduate has no student loan to repay and already has a job, whereas the graduate walks out of university searching for that one job that was snapped up three years ago by a classmate who followed a different path.

Polly also seems to realize that this is not an irreversible decision.

If she doesn't apply to college now, she can apply later. A few years working will not in any way hinder her ability to be admitted to a good school. In fact, it will greatly aid her chance of admission.

On the other hand, going to college forecloses options. It means you cannot decide not to go. If you go into debt, you really foreclose your options. It will mean that you must have a salary so that you can afford your loan payments. This will affect not just what kind of job you need to have, but what kind of person you become. You possibly will not be able to stand up for yourself as well as you otherwise might have, because you need that job, that salary. You will be less free.

All of these facts about life are strenuously avoided by everyone who should be in the position to advise the young. If guidance counselors were subject to even a bit of fiduciary duty, they'd probably all be thrown out of business.


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