With the high school diploma clenched in your hand you are now ready get on with the rest of your life. Decsion time has arrived, what to do? Go to college, take a breather, go to work, serve your country in the military or other government sponsored program?
Each option has their merits and must be examined carefully before going forward. What worked for your parents, older siblings and friends even a couple years older may not work in hard economic reality of 2011.
Should you decide to enter the workforce you will be competing for jobs with only a high school degree against those who not only have solid work experience but also college degrees. The days of getting a high paying job with only a high school are long gone. Some of those jobs disappeared before those who held them were ready to retire leaving them out of work for the first time in their lives with limited prospects because of a lack of education. Not a good situation to be in no matter how old you are. Entering the workforce with only a high school education will involve an extended job search yielding a low paying, entry level job with limited advancement potential. You will not be able to afford a place on your own unless you decide to room with six others who have also decided to take a pass on college for the glittering lights of the workplace. The lights are needed because odds are you will be working a second or third shift!
A college degree is no guarantee that you will always be employed, but a college degree will open doors to potential employers that are closed to those without a degree. Having sat across the table interviewing talented candidates for packaging supervisor positions many times over the past twenty years I’ve more often than not learned toward those who have a degree rather than those who have taken a pass at additional schooling. Many companies will not even interview supervisor candidates unless they are degreed.
If continuing your education full time is not an option I strongly recommend going part-time. Find a way continue you education, even if it only one class at a time. Combining work and school is a tremendous challenge, but the road from high school to retirement is not an easy one. There will be set backs and disappointments with periods of unemployment and under-employment. But a college will make the hard times easier and shorter. The sooner you get a degree, the sooner you will achieve your career goals.