The Road Less Traveled: College Edition


Big 10 school or small school? Public school or private? Joining a fraternity or sorority or avoiding Greek life? These are among the many decisions being made by Libertyville seniors earlier this year when thinking about their paths following high school.

 However, there are a few students who are making a different decision: whether or not to attend college altogether. 

A four-year university is without a doubt the most common route for LHS students to take after high school, and a majority of students often don’t consider any other options. However, there are a handful of students at LHS each year who decide that they wanted to pursue a different path.

 From military enlistment to art school to studying in a different country, many seniors find the fit for their futures somewhere beyond the typical plan.

Motivation & Inspiration  

Many seniors’ decisions for which college they choose can be affected by having a parental legacy, any alumni in the family or another outside inspiration. This same idea applies to most if not all students, regardless of whether or not they plan on attending college. 

In many cases, the decision to take an alternative path following high school stems from a certain someone or something that encouraged them to take that step. 

Senior Mary Wetterling, committed to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, gives credit to her art teacher throughout high school, Mr. Ray Gossell. She expressed the idea that while her parents urged her to choose a more financially stable area of study, Mr. Gossell would make her feel like she was making the right choice for herself, pursuing something she actually enjoyed. 

“Whenever my parents would ask him, ‘What would she do for a job?’, Mr. Gossell would always say, ‘She’ll be doing art,’” Wetterling shared.

Similarly, senior Keyda Feltner plans to enlist in the Air Force Academy after high school. She claims that her dad and one of her previous teachers were main motivations for her, stating that they “always pushed [her] to be the best [she] can be and saw [her] potential to become something great in the Air Force.”

Andrew Bacilek also plans to pursue the military. He will be attending the United States Naval Academy. He credits his Blue Gold Officer (BGO) for being his main influence in his decision. A BGO is essentially an admissions officer for a certain area. 

“He would tell me stories of when he was in the academy, what he did during his service and much more,” Bacilek said.


Cons of College

Some students might believe that college is the best path, or even the only good path when looking into their education and future. 

However, there are some things that a four-year college may not provide for certain students that an alternative path can. For instance, Bacilek believes that military academies are much more personal than most colleges and are incredibly devoted to seeing their students grow.

 “Most colleges have lectures of 200-plus people with a professor who won’t help you very much if you need it. The Naval Academy has a max class size of 25 people, and the professors are available most hours of the day to give assistance in their class,” Bacilek explained.

Additionally, the curriculum offered at regular colleges is simply not a good fit for some students. Traditional universities may not offer courses that can be engaging for every student, so they’re unable to find passion behind what they are studying. 

When looking at some regular colleges, Wetterling said she found that “the materials students were to study didn’t interest me at all and if I wasn’t interested or passionate about it, I knew I wouldn’t succeed.” 


Perks of a Different Plan

There are many pros for any student to consider when potentially making a plan that doesn’t involve a traditional four-year college.

Regardless of the plan, a majority of students can agree on one thing: the importance of doing something that they genuinely feel passionate about. 

Wetterling pointed out that when attending an art school, students are not required to take a math class, which can be a major perk. She added that “if you love doing art, dancing, theater, singing or anything else other than the normal businessman, do it! Because there’s always that saying: ‘If you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life.’”

For Feltner, the main selling point for her is the potential impact that she can have on others in the career path that she chose. 

“For me personally, it’s about doing something bigger than myself and getting to travel around the world,” Feltner expressed.  

Advice that Bacilek has for underclassmen thinking about their futures stresses the importance of pursuing something that they want to pursue: “Whether it be a traditional four-year university, the trades or military, you will not regret it. No matter where you go or what you do, you’ll meet people and have experiences that will change your life for the better. Follow your heart and do what makes you happy.”