Should you go Straight to College or Wait

While I have a different personal situation, the question of college is one that needs to be examined more closely by our society as a whole.

First off. Why go? What is the purpose. Certainly if the ultimate goal is a career path: doctor, engineer, nurse, lawyer, etc, a professional career that requires an investment of education is a worthy reason. Waiting to start that path if it is a clear vision of your future can only impede your life. But simply to go because it seems like that’s where you should be is not a worthy cause. It is possible that the exposure to higher and more various schools of thought and learning will lead to epiphany. But it is also likely that someone who goes without such clarity to start with will end up more distressed at the problem of what to do after. Having a degree and having no goals with what to do with it is a failure of reasoning, even if it may have been a great experience and an expansion of learning.

Second. College for many people can be difficult. It is usually far different and much faster paced than anything most people encounter in high school. It is also much less hand-held and much more hands-on in the manner of education. As a result, anyone who goes should have at least a modicum of invested motivation and interest in their chosen courses. Starting immediately when someone has spent 12 years at school already may not be appropriate. Instead, getting a job and establishing a principle of work ethic to invest later into education may make more sense. For a great many people, it may be more worthwhile to remain in such a job and to receive training in a trade instead. Not everyone should be really be going to college just to go. Not every field of work requires a degree anyway. If someone wants to go merely to explore different fields and learn, I’m fine with that too, in fact I’d prefer if this was the reason to go to college for everyone who goes. But really many colleges have become simply degree factories for professionals. Not everyone needs this.

Third, have a good idea where to go. Find out how much it will cost and assess the financial ability to pay for it. It is not difficult to find financial aid and scholarships, or at worst, find part-time work to pay for it. As long as someone is persistent enough, there is money to be had. But this is an assessment that has to be run. No one should go if they will be getting sticker shock when the first semester’s bill hits. For many, it is entirely possible that going to a two-year community college to get general education courses and basic level introductory material out of the way will make more sense. This is both because the courses may be somewhat easier to manage, but also because it is considerably cheaper to go to such schools for two years and thus get two years worth of work out of the way before going to a traditional (read:expensive) four year institution. People who can’t hack it there can at least find out much more cheaply that college is not for them right now and also quickly find a field to get associates degrees or vocational training readily. There are also a variety of examinations that will issue college credit at a fraction of the cost of taking the class, provided someone is well-versed in the material. Make sure at least that whatever attempts at college credits you make will transfer easily and appropriately. Otherwise, it is a waste of money or time.