Hurrah, the high school phase is over! Now, what’s next? This question frequently comes to the mind of high school graduates. “Should I go to college, should I take a gap year first, or should I skip out on college.” These are some of the questions that high school seniors struggle with every year.
Answering these questions is hard for most high schoolers, because of the implications of each decision. Parents may be nudging you towards a path and your school counselor may be pushing you towards another. Meanwhile, your personal preferences may be telling you to go in a different direction.
For all students going through this dilemma, reading the tips below can help figure out the right path.
Seven Tips to Help Figure Out If College is Right For You
1. Seek Professional Guidance
Most people believe that your parents or school counselors know what is best for you. However, this is not always true. They love you, but they can only advise you based on their previous experiences and what they consider as the best choice.
Most counselors will be inclined towards a degree and they’ll advise you to go for that. Your parents may also recommend that you get a degree at all costs. This is often based on their societal perceptions. The best advice to seek in that scenario is a professional one.
You should consult an educational specialist or agency to analyze your interests and goals. Thereafter, you can arrive at the best pathway to help you achieve that goal. For example, a professional will be aware that you can pursue a career as a software programmer by taking online courses or attending online boot camps instead of going to college. A person who doesn’t know the tech field may not be aware of this fact.
The agency/consultant will also understand if you don’t want to spend additional years in school when you can start your life immediately. Programs like Naviance can provide you with thorough guidance in deciding for or against a college degree.
2. Analyze your Career Goals
The first step towards making the right decision is knowing what you want. College is expensive and time-consuming, so you must be sure that your proposed degree will get you closer to your goals.
Not all career paths require a college degree. For instance, if you want to take up a career as a pilot, you need to specialize in that field. On the other hand, a degree may be your foot-in-the-door towards a juicy job as an accountant. If you want to pursue a career in the medical line, you must go to a medical school.
The opinion of pursuing or not pursuing a degree is subjective. People frequently cite Mark Zuckerberg and others like him as a reason why you can be an achiever without a degree.
Also, people cite the movie “Legally Blonde” to show that you can go to law school and become a lawyer without a law degree. In contrast, others believe that you still need a college degree to prove yourself worthy. After all, there are different strokes for different folks.
Even if you’ve got all the skills you need, your degree may be the final evidence that your would-be employer needs to give you the job. Carefully analyze and think of your career path and ask yourself whether a degree will help you get there. You can make a choice based on this factor.
3. Do Something Different
The time before/after your high school graduation is the time for exploration. It’s okay not to know what you want to do. Even if you’ve got your proposed career path in plain sight, you still need to explore. This is why it’s essential to try something new.
You can take time off to explore before your degree starts or even go for a gap year. This may be the time for you to travel to another country. During your journey, you may gain new insights into what you want to do in life. Also, the importance of an internship can’t be overemphasized. Internships have numerous benefits. They give you insights into your proposed career path.
Also, you’ll get various connections that may hasten your career growth. An internship will help you know if the career you wish to pursue at the end of your degree is worth it. Moreover, you’ll gain knowledge from practitioners to see if you can pursue a career without a degree.
If you’ve been thinking of a business idea, now may be the best time to give it a shot. You don’t need a degree to be a top-level businessperson. However, a degree in business will surely help you push your business more and manage it better. Some skip the degree option but later go for an MBA. Everything boils down to the career path that you envision.
4. Can You Achieve Your Career Goals without a Degree?
You need to ask yourself if a degree will get you where you want to be. 3-6 years in a classroom is a huge investment. You need to be sure that the degree will put you on the right path towards your career. Most students graduate from college only to find out that they don’t want to spend the rest of their lives practicing that degree.
Some get halfway then drop out because they realize they can achieve everything they want without a degree. We know the example of Bill Gates. Some college dropouts went on to achieve great things while some didn’t.
To avoid being pushed by the tide of whatever-comes, you need to have a clear vision of what you want. If you can advance your career without a degree, go for it. Anyway, you can pursue your degree later on if you want.
Gates and Zuckerberg got their degrees later. If your career path requires a degree, then do pursue a degree. Find out about the alumni of your proposed major who are making waves in their chosen career now. Connect with them through platforms like LinkedIn and ask them whether they’ll recommend a degree for the career path or not.
Find out how the degree has opened more doors for them. This will enable you to make the best decision. If you find out that a degree is not suitable for you, you can opt for two-year college programs, trade/technical school programs, online courses, and the like. There are many different programs available online, from associates degrees, doctoral degrees, and even online masters programs.
5. Financial Implication
When making plans for college, you need to count the cost. How much will get you through your proposed college program? Is it scholarship-based or personally funded? Can you and your family bear the cost if personally funded, or will you have to take a loan? With loan options, how long will it take for you to be debt-free?
These questions will help you decide whether college is best for you or you need to start working immediately. If you’ve got a scholarship offer, you should seize the opportunity and attend college. You may not get that kind of opportunity later.
On the other hand, your employer may be ready to sponsor your college program after you work with them for a while.
6. Return on Investment
Profit should be the primary objective of every investment that you make. The same goes for college education. It’s an investment that should yield a considerable return in the long run.
This is why many college students take the chance on student loans knowing that their degree will offset their debts later. But like every investment, you need to do your homework before investing.
There’s a disparity between the number of graduates and the number of existing jobs. This is why you must be sure that your degree is marketable. You need to be aware of the average salary of professionals in your career line.
If you incur debt while pursuing your degree, your salary after graduation must be sufficient to pay off the loan within a reasonable time.
7. Motivations for Going to College
You should ascertain if you’re going to college for the wrong or right reasons. This is why you should discover your motivation and passion. Are you going to college so you can get a headway in a career whereby you’ll find fulfillment?
You shouldn’t go to college just because your parents or school counselor wants you to do so. Your college motivation shouldn’t be your friends or the social perks that come with going to college.
Your parents or your friends won’t be there to push you when the going gets tough. Only your motivation and determination can keep you going.
The lack of self-motivation is a significant reason why a high percentage of students drop out nowadays. Of course, you don’t want to invest in college only to drop out after a few months.
College is arguably the best choice because college graduates are more valued by employers. This is partly because college graduates are considered to possess advanced skill sets. They tend to earn more than High School Diploma holders. Also, their career acceleration is usually speedier than high school graduates.
That said, you shouldn’t feel pressured to attend college just because society says so. Research adequately and seek a professional opinion before you decide to go to college. Remember that this decision will affect all your future plans and aspirations. Therefore, try your best to make the right choice. Ease your mind and let go of the pressure. Whatever decision you come to, pursue that choice with passion and determination. You can do it!