Exploring options after high school


Sacred Hearts Academy senior Joie Kane shows her acceptance video into University of San Diego next year. Attending a four-year institution is one of several options available after graduating from high school. Photo by Zandrina Cambra.

Society consistently preaches that every kid should go to college if they want to be successful in life. Teachers tell us we need to earn above-average grades to get accepted into a high-ranking university. They make it seem as if this is the only path an individual can take to live a prosperous life. 

But this isn’t true. Every person isn’t destined to do the same thing as the other. College isn’t for everyone.

Anna Davies of SoFi, an American personal finance company, stated in an article that, Even employers are realizing that there are many skills that can’t be captured in a degree program.” 

Everyone has more than one option after high school. These include enrolling in a four-year university or a community college, enlisting in the military, attending an international school or even just getting a job and choosing not to attend college. These are all great options and shouldn’t be looked at as “wrong” or “bad” just because they do not follow the traditional route. 

According to an article from financial union OnPoint, “There are many reasons to consider college alternatives, including time investment, personal interests and cost. You might find that college degree programs don’t match your career interests or skills.”

For instance, my older sister and Kamehameha alumna, Alexandrina Cambra chose not to attend college and instead applied for a job. I, on the other hand, am choosing to enlist in the military. Other Sacred Hearts Academy seniors like Ella blu Pakele, will be attending an international school in Japan, while senior Joie Kane plans to attend an out-of-state school. Even some of the faculty at the Academy chose routes different from what society preaches. Teacher Rhianna Mata’afa attended a community college. 

“I was encouraged by my desire to connect with my mother’s Japanese heritage and learn her native language in my grandmother’s country,” Pakele said. “However, as I grew older, my exposure to insightful and informed peers contributing to pressing conversations surrounding global concerns opened my eyes to endless possibilities available in Japan, especially in the focus of international relations and global issues.” 

For Kane, she hopes to gain independence by doing something out of her comfort zone. Then Cambra, who graduated in 2020, stated that she didn’t want to take college courses online. This was when schools shifted to that learning platform at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. She then decided to start earning work experience instead. 

There is a world full of opportunities. Since I was young, I thought I had my life planned out. I was going to apply to the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)  and major in psychology before pursuing a career as a psychiatrist for children.

But life had other plans. Towards the end of my junior year of high school, my father’s best friend married a recruiter for the Army National Guard. In a conversation with my father, she said that those who joined would have their college tuition fully covered. I met with her a few weeks later. She explained to me all of the benefits of being in the guard. I immediately fell in love with what she was saying and decided that I would join. By summer break, I officially enlisted in the Army National Guard. And before I knew it, my original plan for life had changed overnight.

College is frequently oversold as a means to a career. Meaning that in order to get a good job with good pay, you have to go to school. It’s not true in the slightest bit. For example, take my mother, Maile Cambra. She didn’t do very well in high school and didn’t have much money to attend a college, so she didn’t. Instead, she found a job as a flight attendant for Hawaiian Airlines. She earns a good salary without a college education. Or take some of the biggest names on Earth, such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Both are college dropouts but now some of the wealthiest people in the world. 

All of these people expressed their individuality and made a decision for their specific future in mind. No personal choice made was, or should be, looked at as “wrong.” Everyone has their own path in life and just because it’s different from yours, doesn’t mean it should be shamed. There are always more options after high school. 

When making this decision, talk with your family and academic counselors. Remember that it’s okay to take a different route because after all, everyone is different.