THE BLOG
12/09/2014 05:16 pm ET Updated Feb 08, 2015

Reevaluating Post-Secondary Education and Professional Development in the United States

For many of us still in high school or college, one of the many questions that lurks through our minds is "What am I going to do after I graduate?" Although it may seem normal that this question is unceasingly in the back of our minds, I believe that our never-ending attempts to answer this question prematurely serve only to exacerbate our anxiety and uncertainties about the future. We are constantly told to believe that we must go straight into college or graduate school in hopes that we will find a career for ourselves; however, this idea of finishing one's education early without any breaks could potentially be detrimental to the well-being of our generation.

Many college students face this dilemma, especially when it comes to choosing a major. According to Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com, about 80 percent of students in the United States are undecided. As a result, despite the fact that we're told we will figure out our majors at some point in college, sitting in a classroom should not be the place where we gain inspiration or learn about ourselves. Classes don't teach you about the real world and they definitely don't train you when it comes to the reality of joining the workforce. Thus, if we are to really learn more about ourselves, then we must consider taking time off from school. One who still remains uncertain with their life after they graduate from high school or college should travel, get a job or internship, or make money and commit to that project they have always been thinking of doing while daydreaming in their classes. Our passion cannot be found through studying theories in a class but instead in searching for who we are.

This idea might sound radical at first but the notion of falling back on an academic degree in order to advance one's career is an American mentality. In other parts of the world, students don't have this mindset, as they travel, work, and even enter in the army before heading to post-secondary education.

One example can be found in Israel, which has mandatory military service for 18-year-old men and women that lasts two to three years. While being in the army, many soldiers earn practical training for the workforce as they are introduced to technical skills and a professional environment. Subsequently, as soon as a soldier completes their service, many of these men and women -- who at this point are 23-25 years old -- have found their calling and enter a university knowing full well what they want to study and achieve.

This is a common lifestyle in Israel and, in my opinion, a healthier and more successful one. Recently, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OCED) ranked Israel on their list as the second-most educated country in the world, with 46 percent of the population completing post-secondary education. Furthermore, institutions like the army breed novelty, creativity, and technological progress as they produce a majority of our high-tech devices, scientific advancements, and entrepreneurial ventures. Just look at the U.S. military's track record: during the late 1960's, the U.S. Department of Defense funded the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the world's earliest prototype of the Internet.

Ultimately, our social constructions of post-secondary education and professional development should be reevaluated and reconsidered within the United States. Students in American colleges who are undecided will not have the drive to improve their education if they don't know their passion. If we become more informed and enthusiastic about the world before entering a university, then we will have a better chance at succeeding, not only in our schooling, but in our future careers as well. So, rather than spend our time trying to figure out our futures in the classroom, it's about time for us to promote an alternative lifestyle, one that takes us out of the classroom and into the real world.