High school is a HUGE part of life. 4 years of your life spent engaging in team activities, Friday Night Lights, honors societies, ACT prep, late night Sonic drinks, pep rallies... the list goes on. We focus our intent on walking across that platform on graduation day with a diploma in our hands for hard work, but what next?
Choosing a university can be a daunting experience, but with proper guidance, you can have rewarding results.
Just Make Up Your Mind!!!
Believe me, you're not the only one. Many studies have gathered that approximately 50% of students that enter college declare "undecided." That is 1 out of every 2 people you meet that walk the halls of your college campus do not know what career path they would dedicate their lives to.
AND, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, approximately 80% of students change their major at least once. Changing your major at least once can result in additional semesters of schooling, delaying graduation and accumulating even more debt.
What's the Point?
Well, the point of asking the question is to at least address it! Why are you going to college? Is it for a social connection? To meet a future spouse? To party and maybe kinda figure out life? To escape from your parents grasp? Maybe it is to get a well-paying job and start an independent life of your own? Whatever the reason, it would just be down right miserable to waste 4+ invaluable years at the prime of your life on something you do not love or can even see yourself doing.
Let's break down some of the stereotypical assumptions about college and start helping you figure out what is the best path for you.
1. Be Proactive. Do Your Research.
I know this is not what you wanted to hear, but, as in anything in life, if you want it you have to work for it.
Thomas Jefferson once wisely said, "Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude."
While you're in high school, over summers, during breaks, when you have spare time, make a list of anything and everything that sparks your interest, even things that are remotely fascinating to you and begin exploring those possibilities.
For example, if you feel drawn to the medical field, why not volunteer at your nearby hospital, a nursing home, ask for some shadowing experience. I cannot tell you how many times friends have told me about beginning their career on a pre-med track and then as soon as they saw blood, they were grossed out and couldn't handle it anymore. How to prevent this? Check it out on the front end! Even maybe try watching some medical TV shows (I haven't personally done this so I can't recommend any and I know they are not always accurate) but at least you get a better idea of the field and mentality.
If you are drawn to the arts, try experimenting with all different mediums: maybe you're good with pencil, but have you tried sketching on an iPad? Watch Photoshop or Graphic Design Illustrator Tutorials on YouTube? An IMMENSE amount of knowledge is at the TIPS of your fingers! Try to engage in the arts communities by joining local art gallery events or showcases, networking with other artists or photographers could give you an advantage and more experience than others entering it blindly and studying theories in class.
2.Have a Goal
Many people claim that you can "figure it out" in college, you can be clueless about what you want to do in college, just GO.
Well friends, that is a MYTH. In reality, all you will be doing is wasting time confusing yourself, spending unnecessary amounts of money to go in circles on something you are not even certain about.
According to the US Bureau of the Census in 2011, only 27% of college graduates actually used their college major degree in their level of profession. Thinking of the 50% of students who even change their majors multiple times before they achieve this is risky.
In the United States, we are given the privilege to create our own image. The brand we wear, how we walk, how we talk, how we apply ourselves... all creates a unique individualism. In some cases prove the "rags to riches" story. However, let us not take this privilege of education lightly.
3. Visit Campuses.
Based of personal experience, a university may appear to be your dream school on paper, but you may be missing out on the entire picture if you go off the impression the college administration and web designers want you to see.
Choosing a university is a holistic process. Logistically it should make sense with what career goal you have in mind and ideally not make your grandchildren still have to pay off your debt. However, no matter how good it looks on the website, your own intuition and emotions may compel you love or hate you school choice.
Lining up a school tour or simply stepping foot on a university campus may save you years of regret or give you a serene confidence that bolsters your college decision all the more.
4. Explore Other Possibilities.
Some people believe that college straight out of high school is the only option. Familial pressure or traditions based on previous notions may influence a teenager's decision on college entry. Also, quite candidly, college is not for everyone. Yes, it can help to have a degree for some higher paying jobs, but a degree in itself is not everything.
However, there are other alternatives to mediate the gap between attending or not attending college. Recently, the term "gap year" has become more prevalent in modern culture. A gap year or two is simply a time frame in which a high school graduate can work, study, travel or do things otherwise they would not be able to do while at university or afterwards.
While gap years are not for everyone, they can prove to be an excellent alternative for students not quite certain about a major or career path. In this time, the student can explore different possibilities in the forms of: internships, unique jobs, volunteering, mission trips, religious ministry opportunities, etc. For example, some excellent world wide missions and Christian evangelism training base schools that focus on community, self-discovery and identity, include: Thunder School in Nashville, TN, YWAM, Hillsong College and many more.
These valuable years could be spent experiencing real-life applications to interests and generating authentic interest or disinterest in subjects. After these few years, students could then apply for university and know exactly what goal and direction they have in mind. Not to mention, it's always handy to save up a little extra cash for school on the front end while narrowing one's focus.
5. Consider the Costs.
Education is valuable, but is it worth years and years of debt? Unfortunately school in the twenty-first century is NOT CHEAP. According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for the 2015-2016 year at private institution was $32,403, $9,410 for state residents, and $23,893 for out of state tuition at a public institution... For ONE YEAR. Tell me that is not ridiculously expensive!?
Thus, it is crucial to take college seriously and to know what you want and understand how you can get it. Planning out financially with your parents how much they can contribute, how much you are expected to cover, and how much you can can obtain from scholarships and grants is especially helpful when determining a school.
Sometimes, making certain accommodations such as living at home or attending community college for general ed. courses may be wise, frugal decisions that save in the long run.
Well I hope this was insightful for you! Good luck on your college journey!
Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts about this article, how it has helped your, or your own personal struggles and I would be delighted to hear.
Love and Light Forever,