Graduating from high school is a big feat for most! Now what, should everyone go to college? It’s normal to explore multiple options after high school and that’s okay because a major chapter in your life has just been completed. The opportunity to embark on a new journey and accomplish new endeavors are present. Whether someone goes to college, the military, takes a gap year or starts working depends on the individual? There is no one size fit all solution.
Still, it is important to assess the current situation and make the best choice based on the conditions. Some things to consider while choosing are grades, extracurricular activities, finances, and personal motivation. Ask yourself if you’re ready to go to college? The worst thing to do is enroll in school, not be mentally prepared, disregard classes and leave school with thousands of dollars in debt that will need to be repaid within six months of leaving school.
I’ve seen it happen while in college where students became sidetracked and left school with massive debt. In reality, prior to enrolling in school, they weren’t ready mentally and lacked proper support. And guess what, they’re not alone. There is a high number of students who enroll in school with tons of loans that need to be repaid whether college is finished or not. According to the National Clearinghouse Research Center, 55% of undergraduates who matriculated in 2008 graduated within six years. Not to mention, it’s the lowest graduation rate in the developed world. These statistics aren’t often spoken about beyond the educational world, but the dropout crisis is a real problem.
As a high school teacher, I would often tell students that they were better off traveling around the world than enrolling in school, accumulating massive debt that would need to be paid regardless of income and earnings. Often chuckles and laughs would ensue, but this is a real issue. I am not here to discredit higher education, being an individual who has six degrees, a Ph.D. in criminology included, but just here to say that the person needs to be ready mentally and financially. I came from a very modest home; neither of my parents went to college. For me, I had always known since childhood that I would go to college, so it wasn’t an option. When the time came, I applied for more scholarships than anyone I had known. My high school guidance counselor said he had never seen anyone apply for so many scholarships in his 20 plus years as a counselor. I was determined and had good people behind me propelling me forward. I was also fortunate to intern at the local news times and interviewed a woman who gave me advice on how to write an amazing college essay.
She said, “Show, don’t tell.” That is exactly what I did. I had been through many trials and tribulations including going from an honor student in grade school to receiving my first F and hanging out with the wrong crowd my freshman year in high school. I told stories of my high school administrator suspending me from school and calling my mom, which became a huge eye opener. My mother couldn’t believe I was in danger of failing 9th grade and to be honest neither could I. Was I the same girl who made the honor roll every year? I was, but just very confused. I eventually pulled it together and went on to teach high school and become a motivational speaker.
It wasn’t easy, but it took motivation and the three Ds which became my motto: Desire, Determination and the Dedication to achieving in life. I was going to create a better life for myself than my parents and many family members had if I had to die trying. I came to learn that if you have the motivation and the desire to go to college, you can make it happen. If you are not a big fan of education, perhaps a trade school or background in plumbing, HVAC may be your thing. We need plumbers and service technicians in our society. Everyone plays a crucial role in this world.
College is not for everyone and many plumbers make more than college professors. I remember my sociology professor pointing out that surprising fact to me my freshman year. Perhaps a gap year may be an option for some. When is the next time you will have an opportunity to travel the world or do something extraordinary? You have your whole life to work. Take it from someone who has been working since she was 14 years old. If you take a gap year, do something instrumental such as a tour of Europe / Africa / Asia or volunteer in a foreign country. Don’t just sit home. The former will be life changing and far more informative than staying home and enhances your view of the world. If you have to work full time, be careful to not get lured away from college by making money.
Making $30,000 may sound good when you’re 18 but not at 40 while trying to support a family. Nonetheless, there are options. Make a list of the pros and cons of going to college, the military or taking a gap year and go for it. In time you will figure out your passion and future career goals. The important thing is to make a decision on your next chapter. If you asked me in a high school if I wanted to become a teacher, my response would have been no. Life took its course and I followed with the three Ds. Remember you can do anything you put your mind to…“Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, he can achieve,” said the great Napoleon Hill.