While applying for college I knew I wasn’t doing it for the right reasons. I was getting all these external pressures from my family and society that clouded my vision. I made the decision to attend college and did not enroll again after one year. I realized I had spent a year wasting money and life away. This list is what I wish I knew before I had even applied for college.
- What is your reason?
This is the most important thing to think about before deciding to go to college. Most people decide to go to college because it’s “what you do after high school.” Their parents most likely had a large influence on their decision, stressing that they would go nowhere without a degree. I ask you to ignore these things and focus on yourself for a second. Do YOU want to go to school for another four years or is it something that you’re being pushed into? College is too expensive and stressful to attempt without sound reasoning, so I urge you to make your decision wisely.
- Do you know what career path you want to take?
Many people will tell you college is the place to find out what you like to do in life, however I disagree. Paying an exorbitant amount of money to maybe find your passion is lackluster to say the least. Before attending college, it is ideal to take a year or more off to find who you are, what you want to do, or if college is even a necessity. Going to school without knowing what you want to get a degree in may lead to unforeseen consequences.
- Is it worth the money?
A question like this is completely up to you. If you are going to school to become a doctor, then you have to pursue a degree no matter what the monetary costs may be. On the other hand, if you are going into school with an undecided major, be careful that what you end up seeking isn’t insane college debt. Some majors will undoubtedly lead you to success and a well-paying job, but some may leave you in tremendous debt and without a stable career. Be aware of which you are.
- Is an alternative option better for you?
There are many alternatives to a college education. From trade schools to propelling right into the work force, options are endless. Not to mention, if you are lucky enough to be passionate about a trade the schooling is extremely fast and likely to offer high paying careers at much less of a cost. If you decide to jump right into the work force you may find yourself wanting and desiring more. I must caution against getting caught in a career that you despise. This is just as bad as going to college for no reason. Finding the balance between work and passion is how you will achieve happiness.
- Do you excel in academics?
On the surface this question may not seem that important, but it is something I regret not asking myself before going to college. Albert Einstein once wrote, “Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it’s stupid.” This quote applies to the education system as we see it. If you continue to beat yourself down, when you may actually be bad at learning from lectures and written tests, then you will never succeed at all. Find a way to get educated that is the most comfortable for you, whether it be listening to podcasts, reading articles online, or attending a school.
- Do you understand the commitment?
Commitment is an understatement when you are talking about college. While there may be a few gifted people who breeze through college, the vast majority need to study many hours a day to maintain passing, nonetheless getting an A average. The amount of independent study is extreme, but rewarding after passing a test. Honestly, if you are not prepared to study your ass off, listen in class, and ask questions then you shouldn’t waste your hard-earned money on an education.
- Do you NEED to get a degree?
The entire goal of your college career is this degree. Tying back to the question in number two, “do you know your career path?” when you answer that question you must also ask, “is what you’re going to do require a degree?” For example, there is no way you are going to become a doctor, lawyer, or engineer without a degree. Professions like these require degrees for you to get hired and paid extremely well, which means your college education will likely pay off. Career options such as construction, police work, and the trades require much less or possibly even no schooling at all. It is all about being honest with yourself when deciding what the right choice is for you.