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As someone who has worked extensively with high school students I know that a huge question their mind is “what should I do after high school, is college right for me?” I will be honest and say that college is not for everyone. There are students who barely made it out of high school let alone trying to go to college. Don’t get me wrong there are reasons to go to college but in this day and ages there are also alternatives to college and one can still get a job and lead a successful life.
Some don’t want to go to college or some people are not ready to go to college right after high school and that is okay. But no matter if you decide to consider options other than college or to attend college, I always believe that whatever path you chose in life you should be able to financially provide for yourself. But I also know that success comes in many different forms.
More than anything, I believe in people being well informed before making a decision. So let’s go over some stats shall we:
• 70% of Americans will study at a 4-year college, but less than 2/3rds will graduate
• 30% of college students drop out after their first year
• A high school graduate earns 84% less than a typical graduate from a four-year college
• Being Unable to balance school, jobs and family is one of the top reasons for dropping out
• 50% of college dropouts have incomes lower than $35,000
• Those without a college degree are twice as likely to be unemployed as.
• A college degree is worth $365,000 for the average American man after you subtract all the direct and indirect costs over a lifetime
• A college degree is worth $185,000 for the average American woman
Okay so now that you have these quick little stats what does it mean exactly? That is why I am here to break it down to you.
If you happen to one of those teen phenomenon’s who started a YouTube Channel when they were 13 and when they graduate high school they have millions of dollar saved up in the bank; being unemployed and making less money than everyone else is not going to apply to you.
If you are one of these prodigies and you want to skip out on college because your career has already started, then no one could blame you. But just remember the technical world is shaky. This is for anyone who is working now making good income without a degree, you never know what the future holds and often times it is good to have a college education to fall back on.
For example, no one thought that Myspace would tumble the way it did and look at it now. So just because you have a career outlook now, it is important to see if that career will carry you into the future.
For most people who do not have money laying around in the bank and know that they need sometimes of career but do not know which way to turn, then consider this. If you know that you do not have good time management skills or that you really do not want to go to college and will end up dropping out anyway. Then please do not waste your money, your parent’s money, and government grant and loan money. Don’t go if you know you will not do well.
Now Let’s Determine Is College Right For Me? And Discuss Alternatives to College
Community college: If you are not sure if a four year university is for you, try a community college first and then transfer to a four year college. It is a whole lot cheaper and if you do not like it you did not waste a lot of money. If you do like it then after two years transfer to a bigger university. Or you can chose to stop at an associate’s degree level (two year degree) and start your career.
Trade schools: If you just want to make a living doing something you love this may be for you. Going to a trade school you can be a mechanic, beautician, or some other technical certification and you can make a decent living. Once again it does not take as long as a degree, is cheaper, and is more hands on as oppose to doing book work and papers all day.
Hard Work: Despite what those stats say working hard can get you to where you need to go. I have an uncle that started working in fast food when he was in high school.
Now he is the store manager of several stores and makes more money than most people his age. Without a college degree. If college is not for you, there is hope that you can still make good money, own a home, and do all that you want to do out of life. But be willing to work hard and be willing to work your way up from the bottom.
Military: My mother joined the military when she was 21, two years after she had me. And we loved it. She did not go to college right away but over time she got a Master’s degree and guess what? The military paid for it, and she is loan free. And plus when she was in the military we got to travel all over the world. Something some people ever get to do. And often times after you get out of the military you can get a great job because of the experience the military gave you.
Online college: Do not laugh at online colleges. They have a better reputation than they use to have say 15 years ago. In fact I got my Master’s degree and attending my PhD classes at an accredited online school. If you have some type of social phobia where you do not like being around people, have children, or work a lot and need a free schedule online school can be for you. You still get the end result of a degree either way. But online school is not easy. It requires you to be a self starter and really good time management. No one is going to force you to get up and go to class everyday. You have to take the responsibility of managing your online classes on your own.
College has been good to me and I have a few degrees, but college is not for everyone. There are many things you can do to still pursue your goals in life and not go to college. But whatever you do, I urge you be serious about your craft. Do not say you want to be a model when you graduate high school and have no concrete plan for it. Do not go chasing your dreams of being a singer by visiting a karaoke bar ever night in hopes of getting discovered. There is nothing wrong with those dreams if you would rather do that than go to college. But be realistic and work at them and come up with a plan. And by a plan I mean a feasible plan that you can actually do. Do not just wish upon a star and hope that one day you will be successful. Life does not work that like.
Here are some options other than college that you can pursue. But to be honest if you want to make really good money then more than likely it is going to require some type of certification or additional classes. The key here when trying to figure out what you should do with your life, is to pick a option that is right for you. Sometimes that means not going to college after high school but going later in life. And maybe you may be like the inventor of Facebook and make a billion dollars without a college degree….note I said maybe. Most importantly, be honest with yourself, your skills, and what you want out of life as you make your decision.
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