College or Not

College or Not? Go to college now or wait?

Sometimes students feel pressured by friends, teachers and parents to go to college when they don’t want to go. Others aren’t sure if they want to go or not.

What if I don’t want to go to college?

Simple answer: If you really don’t want to go to college, DON’T GO. There are plenty of excellent serious looking girlcareers that don’t require college.

Josette has decided she will not go to college. Her friends keep urging her to go. “You’re so smart,” Josette, they say. “You’d do well in college. If you don’t go, you’ll regret it.” Josette is sad now, knowing that all of her best friends will be leaving.

But Josette took a pottery-making class in high school and decided this is what she really wants to do. Sure, she could go to an art school but that costs a lot of money. Her plan is to spend three months each with four different potters, learning from them. Then, if she still loves making pottery, she might set up her own business, making and selling pottery.

If she changes her mind, she can always apply for college later. Right now, she wants to follow her dream.

You, too, should follow your dreams. If you want to be an auto mechanic or a plumber or an electrician, if you want to be a travel agent or sell cars or real estate,  you don’t need to go to college. You could also join the military and you might learn a useful trade there. Some people dream of flying a plane. One way to get this kind of  training is to join the Air Force. Others are trained as plane mechanics. Later, these experiences help them get work with an airline company.

For most good jobs, however, you will need some specialized training. If you’d like to work for the police department, fire department, or work as a paramedic, you could probably get the specialized training at a community college. For other jobs, you could go to a vocational school. You could get into an apprenticeship program. You might get a job, starting as an assistant, and learn on the job.

One easy way to think about possible jobs is to look through the Yellow Pages of your local telephone book. Make a list of places where you might enjoy working. Visit the stores or companies and ask about the training needed for certain jobs. If possible spend time with someone doing that job. You might offer to buy lunch in exchange for advice. Ask what he or she likes best about the work and what the biggest problems are.

You could also read the classified ads in the newspaper. This will tell you what sort of workers local companies want. The ad might explain what training is required or you could call and ask.

For more information, ask your guidance counselor for suggestions. Check your school library and public library for books on the topic.

What if I’m NOT SURE if I want to go to college?

If you still have several years to think about it, then start thinking. Do what is suggested on the top of the page and think about the kinds of jobs you would like to do. You don’t need to make a decision right away.

IF YOU ARE A SENIOR, you don’t have much time to think. You have three choices:

1. Apply to colleges right away. Visit the colleges and see if any of their programs look interesting to you. By applying you are giving yourself a few extra months to make your decision. If you have a good idea what kind of work you’d like to do, check out schools where you can get training in this kind of work.

2. Instead of going to a four-year college, you might take classes at a nearby Community College. Visit the school. Look at their list of courses. While students working for the two-year Associate’s degree have certain required courses, you might be able to take just the courses that will be helpful or interesting to you.

You could get a job, fulltime or part-time, and just take a few classes.  This experience might help you decide if you want to continue your education or not.

3. You can put off the decision for several years. Get a job, preferably a job that you would consider as a lifetime career. Working for several years before starting college often gives students time to think further about the kind of work they’d like to do. When they choose to go to college, they are more mature and often more serious about their studies.

What you really SHOULD NOT DO is — go to college anyway

One year at college, when you include room and board and books can cost $20,000 at a low-cost in-state public university. For private or out-of-state colleges, the average is 43,000 a year and many will cost over $50,000 for one year. That’s a lot of money to waste, to throw away, if you are going to spend your time partying or making friends and skip classes. Students who don’t want to go to college often end up failing. Save your money or your parents’ money for something better. And, if you get a student loan for that semester or year in college, even if you fail or drop out, you still are required to repay that loan.

If you aren’t sure you want to go to college, Don’t Go. 

This is the last of the pages in Think College. If you want to look at other pages, go to College Links

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