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Why I Didn’t Attend College And My Thoughts On It Now

March 18, 2014


Erin Schrader

high school graduation

The other day I received an email that went something like this: “So from my point of view, you seem like a pretty successful and happy person, but you haven’t gone to college! I searched through your archives a bit, but didn’t find much about your college/career choices… Maybe I’m missing them, but they didn’t pop out. What made you decide to not go to college? Are you happy with your decision? What’s your part-time job now?” The email went on to say she is an 18 year old girl who is currently taking a “gap year” before deciding what she wants to do. After reading her questions it dawned on me that I haven’t actually written a post specific to this subject so I figured no better time than now. 

My story goes something like this…

It all starts with Shawn. We started dating when I was 15 and he was 17. 
check out the bling in Shawn’s ears 

About a year or so into the relationship, I was looking through a local homes magazine and the thought of becoming a real estate agent washed over my brain. I had always been intrigued with looking at homes and knew that I could certainly enjoy the flexibility and potential it allowed. I told Shawn at the time how I was considering real estate as a real life career for when I turned 18. Shawn also expressed interest in this career choice because much like myself, he hadn’t given a whole lot of thought to college at this time. For whatever reason, college never really intrigued me. I didn’t feel a strong urge to go, mostly due to the fact that I figured I would have to stay in a dirty tiny dorm room and the thought sounded absolutely miserable (pathetic but true). I didn’t like the thought of having to delay getting my career started. I wanted to be out living in the real world, making money, getting married, buying my own home to live in, etc. To be honest, I don’t even remember having in- depth conversations with my parents on whether or not I wanted to go to college. Not because they didn’t care, but because they always did an amazing job of allowing my sister and I to be our own individuals and believed in what our decisions were. I believe I made the decision in the back of my head at a pretty early age that college wasn’t for me. I never went on one college visit, I didn’t take the SATs, I had other plans for myself. 

The summer going into my senior year of high school, Shawn and I attended a real estate class which led to getting our real estate licenses. We quickly got a job working for a local Century 21 real estate office and hit the ground running. I spent my mornings at high school and my afternoons selling homes. Looking back it all seems a little crazy to me. Why humans allowed an 18 year old girl who was a senior in high school to list their home is beyond me. But I was driven, I had a passion for what I was doing, and I figured out a way to make it work. Being in High School turned out to be a great thing for my business as I started working with several teachers in their home buying process. I certainly led a different life than most of my peers that last year of high school–instead of attending homecoming I was showing houses on Friday nights. I had business cards in my wallet, real paychecks coming in which went towards buying crazy expensive dogs, and instead of spending time on Facebook I was creating postcards to mail to new prospects. 

that would be the expensive dog…that I later traded with my parents for furniture 

My friends all went off to college that following Summer and never ever did I have one tiny regret that I wasn’t going with them. I was happy doing what I felt like was best for me at that time. 

the summer before everybody left

Shawn and I got married two years later when I was 20, we purchased our first home, and we were focused on making our careers work for us. While I wasn’t out making a ton of new friends and experiencing what college had to offer, I was truly having the time of my life. I was too busy creating what I wanted my reality to look like that I never felt like I was missing out on what others were doing. 

For me, I knew that I didn’t desire a career that required a college degree so it didn’t make sense for me to go. A few years after selling real estate and getting married, I decided to do something different only because Shawn and I were both commission only, had no health insurance, and no retirement. At that point I got a job at a local bank which has brought me to where I am at now, working part-time at a credit union training new employees as they get hired and blogging the other part of my day. I love every bit of it. Shawn has also since transitioned out of real estate into another professional job that I personally think he is incredible at (awww). Truly his work ethic puts mine to shame. 

Would I do it all over the same way again? 100% yes. I don’t know if obtaining a college degree will ever appeal to me, but right now I can’t see it in my future. Another perk? Because neither one of us went to college, neither one of us had any college debt. Do you know much of a difference that has made for us? We are not wealthy people but because of this fact alone we were able to do other things with our money like purchase rental properties as opposed to paying off student loans. Personally for us, not going to college was one of the best things that happened to us. 

I will say this time and time again—it’s not what you know but who you know. A lot of people dislike this statement but I have seen it come true in my life and so many others time and time again. Along with that, real life experience in my personal opinion is greater than than a piece of paper with a degree on it. Do I think college is beneficial and necessary for a lot of people? Absolutely. Do I think it was for me? No. Fortunately, I have never been restricted doing what I want to do by not having a college degree. Now if blogging every requires a four year degree I’m screwed 😉 

Ultimately I don’t think you find your happiness in whether or not you spend 4 years of your life furthering your education or getting a hands up in the work field, but rather your attitude you had and continue to have in all situations you find yourself in. 

To the 18 year old girl who wrote me this email, keep in mind these three things: work hard, believe in yourself, and love people well. You will be just fine, college degree or not. The best is yet to come. 

notice it doesn’t say anything about being educated 😉 

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