The topic of college can be stressful to young adults, especially if you are coming right out of high school!!! A large number of high school graduates don’t know yet what their dream career is, and between me and you that is ABSOLUTELY FINE! Here I’m going to talk about a few ways to weigh your options and what I believe are 4 key points to consider before making your decision.
1) Think about what makes you happy, not necessarily what makes you $$$$
If you first consider what makes you happy you are onto a good start! When I was a sophomore in high school I knew the answer to this: for me it was baking and to this day it is still baking. I will say there were other things that made me happy, such as ceramics, painting, scrapbooking and eating ice cream by the pint!! I bet you weren’t expecting to hear that one but hey it made me happy. The point I’m trying to make is that narrowing down your options is the first step to making a successful decision. For me, I would throw eating ice cream out the window first because unfortunately nobody ever made money that way. Next I thought about art (ceramics/painting) and baking. I thought about what I was best at. I knew I had gotten good at decorating cakes, and I saw what I was capable of doing in the baking field but I was still playing with the idea of going into ceramics. I even looked at art schools… and here is where we lead into key point #2 DOING YOUR RESEARCH!
2) Do your research
Now that you’ve narrowed down your options you can do your research. To use my experience as an example I found that art school can be very expensive, and that the job opportunities can be scarce. When looking into baking I found that college can also be very expensive, but I found a lot of other options such as trade school and internships, and the job opportunities seemed to be endless. So there it was! I found what made me happy, did my research, and I was ready for the next step! Point #3 be realistic with your finances!
3) Be realistic with your finances!
Everyone has their own finances and it is important for you to look at the numbers and be realistic. I knew right away that $30,000 a year was not going to work for me. I was not ready to put a financial burden on myself at a young age. Growing up hearing the adults around me talk about debt really shaped me to think, “if I cannot afford it then I cannot buy it.” In my case it may seem extreme, but I did not want a loan and I didn’t want this word DEBT to be part of my world. It just seemed like a burden. Having 100% responsibility over my career path and finances meant there was a lot at stake. This is when I found that Trade school was the right option for me. I looked into the price and it seemed like a reasonable option considering my financial state at the time. In order to put my plan into motion I still needed to save more money. This is when I decided that a gap year was right for me. I took a year off, worked my butt off, and paid for my professional training at the International Culinary Center for Pastry Arts In full. This meant no loans, and NO DEBT for me!!! I know that many people have the financial burden lifted by their parents, and that is something to be very thankful for. This leads to key poing #4 DO NOT go to college just to please them!!!
4) Please make sure you ARE NOT going to college just to please your parents!
I cannot stress more that your career path is YOUR OWN! I’ve known many people who cave under the pressure their parents put on them to go to a four year college. Others go because it is an easy choice, and they likely won’t gain as much from the experience. I’ve even met someone who said “Yeah my parents paid for my school, I just chose the easiest major.” It’s important to consider your motivations before going to college, because you may look back and think you wasted time and money (whether it be your own or that of your parents). What to do after high school may be the first adult decision you make. Do not forget this choice is about your own future and no one else’s!
If you have stopped to consider these 4 points I hope this has challenged
you to really think about your next step after high school. Remember to consider what makes you happy, know your reasons for wanting to go to college/ trade school, and weigh the financial options available to you. You have what it takes to make your dreams a reality!