Maybe your family of overachievers expects it of you. After all, you've almost completed five or seven years of high school, so naturally university comes next, right? Or maybe you think it's what the 'bright' kid with good grades is supposed to do.
Maybe all your friends want to go to college, or that's what students from your high school tend to do. Or maybe you've been on auto-pilot going from grade level to grade level and you just don't know what to do if you're not a student, collecting lunch money from mummy and daddy and rushing off to class.
But do you really want to go to college? Is it even for you?
These are important questions to ask yourself and to answer for yourself, especially before you get sucked into college and university applications and spend money registering with tertiary institutions. But relax, even if you've been accepted to a university or college already, take a moment to be sure this is what you really want and examine your own head space before heading off to college. Not sure where to start? We'll help!
Read below for a few important considerations before sending off all your applications and registering for classes:
Have the right motivation
Doing it for mummy or daddy is not the right motivation. Going to college because you're 'supposed' to is no reason at all. And doing it because you're scared to get into adulting or you're not sure you're ready for the alternative of going to school (i.e. getting a job) ain't it, either. College is hard. It's no walk in the park. It's not be there or be square, it's more like be there, work hard and reap success because this is what you truly want.
Know that you don't have to go
If the job or profession you have in mind doesn't strictly require a degree or that particular degree, you really don't have to go. The sky isn't your limit. You are limitless and filled with potential. It's all about what you want to do, what you give yourself permission to try to do, and what you believe you are able to achieve. So start a business, start a passion project, volunteer, do a certificate programme, learn a skill, start a podcast, get a job. You don't have to have it all together at 17 or 18 or 19, and you don't have to sit in college classes to prove that you'll have it together soon or that you're not wasting your potential.
Stop and think
If you can afford to take a gap year, and you aren't quite sure if you want to go to college, or what you'd study if you even went, take the gap year. Or find out if you can start the programme of your choice a semester later. Don't be the person hopping from programme to programme or from school to school if you don't have to be. Figure it out first - evaluate your feelings and thoughts - then dive in. You'll be glad you did.
Remember that progress isn't always linear and may differ from person to person
Not going off to college right now (either because you can't afford to do that straight out of high school, or because you don't want to do that just yet) doesn't mean you're stupid or destined to fail or that you're going to get left behind by friends and peers. It's no big deal. Better to avoid late nights, high levels of stress, and a tonne of assignments and exams to get a (literal) sheet of paper you didn't need, didn't want or won't use. Remember: different strokes, for different folks. Success becomes us all, but it doesn't look the same to us all.
Study what you want to
For a great deal of students heading to college or looking into heading off to college, the anxiety experienced regarding the decision isn't actually about getting a degree or not. It isn't about leaving home. It isn't even really about leaving old friends behind or making new friends or how different it must be sitting in a uni lecture theatre and getting an education. It is instead, about what they've applied to study.
So firstly, do what's practical. If you or your family cannot afford for you to get the degree of your dreams, only for you to struggle to get employment (at all or in your field of choice) thereafter, think a little before rushing off to do that particular degree. (Think a little and do some research.) But above all, don't underestimate how hard it is to do a degree that you don't really want to do. It's not always as easy as getting a degree you're uninterested in just so you can get out of school, get a job and then come back later to really do what you wanted all along. That works for some persons but we aren't all so lucky. Confused? Unsure? See any of the points above again.
Ultimately, when you cross that stage - if you ever choose to cross that stage - and you are officially awarded your degree, it'll be a big moment for you not because you did what your family wanted you to do, or because you got a degree with your high school friends. That moment will be big and will really matter to you because you had a personal goal and you attained it by working hard and making sacrifices as became necessary. Your degree won't make you a better person or a more interesting person, it won't make you superior to those who don't have degrees or that particular degree. And unfortunately, as things are on the job market locally, your degree might not even guarantee you a job in your field of choice or a job with a great paycheck straight out of school.
Some persons make friends for life while studying at college. Others will say their best experiences were had while at university. But even so, hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions of dollars is too high a price tag for just a sheet of paper with your name on it and a couple experiences under your belt. That said....So you think you wanna go to college, huh? Think again and keep all this in mind.