To go or not to go… that is the question… right? As an adult who really wasn’t that interested in going to college as a teen, but still went, I might have a balanced perspective on the matter for those who are contemplating going (or forcing their kids to/not to go).
So let’s get right into it. Going to college has some obvious pros, such as job opportunities. It also has well-known setbacks, such as the cost and potential for debt. Whether or not it’s worth it ultimately comes down to the person who’s actually going to go. I know that parents either suggest or coerce their teens to go to college after finishing high school and have good intentions behind doing so. I think it’s safe to say that most people believe that going to college is a win-win scenario and I understand why. Many jobs require a minimum of a bachelors degree, regardless of what it’s actually in, such as teaching English abroad. Not to mention, the amount of high paying, non-laborious jobs that are available to those with a bachelors compared to an associates or lower certification. Besides that, the expense of college also covers the cost of the experience. This is something that many people who don’t believe college is necessary tend to leave out. In college, you get the opportunity to learn about the world- outside of the neighborhood you grew up in. You get to meet people from different cities, states, and countries and learn about new cultural practices. If you take college seriously, you’ll learn the importance of time management, you’ll gain a greater understanding of people who are unlike you, and you may value the dollar a little more if you were under a lot of financial strain while in college. Based on this experience alone, I’ll likely recommend my future sons (yes, I said sons) go to college after high school. If you’re uncertain about going to college, I recommend entering the normal work force until you have an idea of what you might like to do in college. Even if you decide on a profession that you don’t have to go to college to do, like graphic design, I’d suggest considering college, still. You’ll have the opportunity to learn the skills with peers and potential friends, you’ll have access to networking opportunities that someone studying at home might not, and you can learn the skills of other relevance, like communication and entrepreneurship. You’ll also have immediate access to equipment and computer programs that you might not ever get to even try out on your own. If going to college is an issue of money, know that it is possible for you to go to college at some point. Explore the possibility of careers that don’t require a college education, but don’t give up on whether or not you’ll ever get to go.
Now, lets talk about why going to college might be the wrong idea and why it may be better for you to go straight into (or just stay in) the work force. I know a lot of people who’ve told me they went to a certain college just to party and do drugs. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy a good kickback with wine coolers and attractive guys around, but I know better (now) than to let that be the focus of my life. I could write (or probably just recommend some books and documentaries) on why drugs are a seriously bad idea and contradictory to what you actually go to college for. You can party all night and day while working somewhere, rather than doing it at college and wasting money when you fail out of your classes. If you seriously have no idea of what you may want to do, and you’re not willing to enter the entry-level work force, it may be worth considering the military, Job Corps, or Americorps. By doing any of these, you can learn skills to go into a career as well as gain income. All 3 of these, in some cases, will afford you the opportunity to move out of your parents place and possibly move out of the state or country. However, while you’re doing these, I suggest you still try and learn what it is that you think you want to do as a career. It’ll probably just hit you one day when someone tells you how good you are at something, or maybe you’ll suddenly get offered the opportunity to go into a career and you’ll just love it. Also, if at some point you realize what you want to do or that you’d like to go to college, then go for it. No matter how old you’ve become.
Do I think you can be successful without going to college? I know you can. There are plenty of people out there who can be an example for this. But are you willing to do what those people did to get to a sustainable income and beyond? Also, I know that many people argue the fact that so many people go to college and struggle to find work. My perspective on that matter is these three things:
1. Where is that person located? Are they willing to move to get a job (or better job)?
2. How well is this person putting their selves out there for a job?
3. Is the career path that they’re after one that only a small percentage of people are successful at? (i.e. Movie production)
Whatever you do, make sure that you’re either doing, or working towards doing, something that you enjoy, makes you feel fulfilled, allows you to contribute something to this world, and forces you to constantly grow. Although I didn’t want to go at first, I’m glad that I went and made the most out of the experience (after I basically screwed it up) because it turned out to be the best thing for me. After having some experience in the working world, getting an idea of what I really want to do for a career, and changing my perspective on what college has to offer, I’ve found it to have been the best thing for me.
And no, I don’t think everyone should go to college. Not because I’ve heard of (I don’t actually personally know anyone though) the numerous success stories from people who didn’t, but because I know people who are perfectly fine with (and even enjoy) waiting tables, driving trucks, farming, being a nursing assistant, etc… And those jobs, as well as whether or not the employee enjoys doing them, are just as important as any other. What’s I think is most important is whether or not you’re pursuing your calling.
What do you think? Should everyone go to college? Or do you believe the extreme opposite? Somewhere in the middle?