Should An 18 Year Old Go to College?

     Before we ponder over one of life’s biggest decisions, for a young adult, it is important to appreciate the fact that we have the freedom and ability to choose.  Somewhere right now someone is battling with their parents to understand their desire to not go to college and somewhere else, a college education is the only chance they have for a better life, they put their life on the line to pursue it.  Gratitude is always the first place to start, grateful that we have access to college as well as other educational learning opportunities outside of college. 

To go or not to go, that is the question. 

     As you ponder your decision, you will hear things like: college prepares you for the “real world,” it guarantees good-paying jobs, it gives you credentials and authority that “real world” experience doesn’t give you.  What prepares you better for the “real world” than being part of it?  A college degree does not guarantee a good paying job, just ask the 44% of American college grads that are underemployed (based on a study in 2012 but it is speculated that the percent has grown significantly in the past 4 years.)  How does a college degree give you more authority in a specific area than 4 years of real world experience?  And we haven’t even talked about the financial side of things.  I guess you see where I stand, but college is for some people. 

You Should Go to College if?

     You are absolutely sure of what you want to do and a college degree is necessary, i.e. a lawyer, doctor, etc or if you are completely unmotivated, claim to have no passions and you know if you take time “off” you will do nothing productive. 

Now for the Rest of Us

     “You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful.  You just need a framework and a dream.”  ~ Michael Dell

     As Michael Dell states, you don’t have to be a mastermind or even talented at any given subject, but you do have to be able to fail, to put yourself out there time and time again and most importantly, learn from your mistakes.    

     We are beginning to see more opportunities outside of the traditional path after high school.  We have options; we can start a business using YouTube, Word press, Facebook, etc, if we are interested in healing or caretaking, we can intern or volunteer at a hospital or nursing home, if we want to travel, not only is it much cheaper than college but you can also join with a charity to cut down costs or you could go to trade school, the opportunities seem limiteless.    

     In United States, graduates have more than 1.1 trillion dollars in student loan debt with an average of about $30,000 per person.  It’s easy to get caught up in college life and end up completely out of touch.  If you want to run your own business, it is much more valuable to try and fail than to go to college for 4 years and end up $30,000 in debt.  Statistics show about half of the unemployed are college grads.  In our changing times, college doesn’t make sense for the majority of us. 

     “I didn’t go to college at all, any college, and I’m not saying you wasted your time or money but look at me, I’m a huge celebrity.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres

     The list of famous celebrities that don’t have a college degree is long, but to name a few:  Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Dave Thomas, David Green, Larry Ellison, Kevin Rose and Raphael Ray.  If you want to read more about their stories, which I recommend, 8 Hugely Successful People Who Didn’t Graduate College is a fantastic read. 

Learning What You Want

     It’s important to become good at identifying what you are interested in and what types of experiences or trips would best benefit you and your dreams; make lists, envision where you want, who you want to become and most importantly ask questions.  Question everything, when you just blindly accept something that society tells you as truth, that’s when you know you need to step back and evaluate more, ask questions and be open to the possibility of change. 

It’s Up to You

Ultimately, you need to do what’s best for you.  But don’t be so quick to say you can’t do it; there are many options for you and people who are whiling to help. 

     “The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.” ~Albert Einstein