Asking yourself “should I go to college” feels like a life or death decision. Here’s some helpful facts to make the choice that’s right for you.
It’s time to consider whether or not going to college is right for you. You may be asking yourself, “Is a college degree necessary?”, “should I go to college?” or “is college worth it?” and even if you think the answer is yes, you may be wondering how to be a successful student.
Let’s take a quick look at the numbers:
In fall 2018, about 19.9 million students are expected to attend American colleges and universities, which is the highest for 3 years and only slightly lower than the peak of 21 million in fall 2010.
The numbers alone and the various benefits of having a college degree makes it seem like college is a good decision. But, before deciding, here are things to know before college.
Reasons to Go to College:
1. Your desired job requires a degree
Many career choices require a degree. If you already know what you want to pursue and a degree is necessary, then you have your answer. And, even if your desired career doesn’t require a degree, you may want to change your job down the line into something that does. So, by getting a degree, you’re opening up the door to more possibilities (especially for companies that offer better benefits).
2. You want to earn more money
Did you know that, on average, college graduates earn more than non-graduates? Maybe you did, but you did you know that graduates with a bachelor’s degree earn up to 56% more per year than those with just a high school diploma. If money is a strong motive (which it generally is), having a degree leads to a higher salary. And, if money is a strong reason why you don’t want to go to college now because you can’t afford it, you should know that there are grants, scholarships, loans, work-study programs and even tuition-free colleges.
3. You want to meet people and create a network
College is a great place to meet people from all over the world and expand your network with those whom you may otherwise never cross paths. Small colleges average 5,000 students, and large colleges typically have more than 15,000 students.
4. You like to learn
Some people genuinely enjoy the class setting, where interaction with peers and professors promote better learning. Even if you’re a self-learner, the class and scheduled set-up may better prepare you for success because it’s structured and provides you with life skills like time management that’ll be useful in the workforce.
5. You want to achieve independence
Outside of the actual coursework, being in college teaches you independence. You have to learn to manage your time, create an organized schedule, make time for friends and family, and balance your finances. It’s a good transition from school into working life.
6. You want to go to school events
Sports events and school legacies last a lifetime. If you’re interested in having some fun and showing school spirit, college can provide that opportunity.
7. You want to get involved politically
For those who have an interest in activism and politics, school governments are a mini version of real world politics, and being involved can help shape your future and better prepare you for being a better citizen, or politician.
8. You want to work internationally
If you’re looking to move abroad and get a job in another country, a college degree is a huge benefit as it automatically will place you above your competition. For legal reasons and visa purposes, many companies who are willing to sponsor work visas will require a degree.
9. You want to provide a better life for you and your family
Like the first reason states, having a college degree puts you in a position to earn more money than not having a degree. In order to be better equipped to raise and support a family, a college degree can help.
Reasons Not to Go to College:
1. You’re only going because of pressure from family or friends
When it comes down to it, college is a part of your life, so you have to be invested in it, mentally, emotionally and financially. If your only motivation to go is because you’re being pressured, then it may not be right for you.
2. You want to go into career that doesn’t require a degree or start a business that doesn’t require a degree
If you have a business idea and can get started without a degree, you may want to just jump in. While it’s definitely possible to make it without a degree, and many people have done just that, you need to weigh your plan B’s in case the business doesn’t work out. Try to list out your back-up plans and make sure they also don’t require a degree before you decide to skip college. Or, try out the business now, and know that you can always go “back” to college after.
3. You want some real world experience
Say you want to travel and volunteer now. Even if you know you could do that later, that’s what is really calling you. The good news is that these opportunities can better prepare you for college down the line by teaching valuable life skills and opening up your mind. Perhaps the best thing to do would be to take a gap year, figure out your goals and priorities and then go to college afterwards, if it’s going to better serve you.
4. You can’t afford it or are worried about paying back student debt
There’s no denying that college can be expensive and hard to afford. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are online, accredited universities. For example, University of the People is entirely tuition-free, and when you graduate, you get a degree from a well-respected university that partners with New York University and UC Berkeley, to name a few.
5. Your academics aren’t great
Some universities require a minimum GPA to be considered. If your high school records aren’t showing the best grades, you can still go to college. Online universities often require that you pass an English test, but your previous grades won’t stop you from getting in. Find out more here.
Like all major decisions, it’s useful to write down the pros and cons to see where you stand and outline how you can be a successful student if you do decide to enroll.
Even though it feels like a huge decision right now, remember it’s not a once in a lifetime decision. You can go to college later in life, whether its at 25, 35, or 55. In fact, for a lot of colleges, the majority of their students are 25 and older. Many people who didn’t get a degree straight out of college decide to later to change career paths or because they are financially ready to afford college, and there’s no shame in that game.
Remember, college will always be there, and there are many online universities that can help you achieve your degree regardless of where you are in the world or your financial status.