While college is a pretty natural choice for many seniors, there are several for whom another path is where their life is taking them...and you may be one of those. It can be surprising to the ones around you, but you're not alone. Many seniors choose to forego college to many other exemplary options, such as joining the military, starting an awesome new job, or going to community college. Although it can be lonely and unconventional, these are really worthwhile options, and you should never feel ashamed for choosing a different journey. Here are a few ideas on how to handle this time when your friends are getting ready to head off to their universities:

Source: pexels

Source: pexels

-Support them: It might feel awkward, and even lonely if you are the only one who has chosen to not go "away" to college. But your friends (your true ones) will love and support you, no matter what you have decided, and it's up to you to do the same for them. Attend their graduation parties, say your goodbyes, and help them get started on their big move with an awesome attitude. Your friends will always remember that you stood by them and truly celebrated their accomplishments.

-Find the positives: Maybe going away to college was what you hoped for, and it didn't work out, whether it was too expensive or you didn't get into your dream school. This can feel completely crushing, and can feel like your world is crashing down around you. Instead of wallowing in the hardships, find the positives to focus on, when you can. Here are a few: less student debt if you choose a less expensive school, the ability to live at home or work part time (thus offsetting alot of student loans), and time with loved ones in your hometown or close by. 

-Search for ways to enhance your college years: Even without college or at a community college, you don't need to miss out on the traditional college experience. Look for ways to join clubs, choirs or even sororities wherever you are at, and figure out creative ways to make new friends. If you are joining the workforce right away, seek out opportunities to meet up with co-workers for meals or fun activities, and remember to have some fun! 

-Don't apologize: Even if staying close to home, or joining the military wasn't your first choice, you don't need to explain or validate your choices to the people around you. You don't need to justify your choices, even if they were hard ones. Stand strong in your decision, and be proud of your hard work. You graduated high school, after all, and that's nothing to scoff at. No matter what you do next, be sure to own it. You're an adult now, and you can be proud of the choices you've made if you are confident they are the right ones.

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