With the end of the school year nearing, most juniors are expected to begin thinking about what they want to do after high school. Students have a lot of different paths to choose from. They could go straight into the workforce, join the military, or go to college. Some young adults take a gap year to figure out which path they want to take. Everyone seems to think that they have to go to college at some point in their life, but how does someone know if college is right for them?
Mrs. Borcherding advises, “Find someone in the line of work that you'd like to go into and figure out what path you'd need to take to get there. [You also need to] visit the college that you are thinking about attending.”
Adding to the idea Mrs. Borcherding shared, Ms. McCroskey says, “I'd have a good think about if your career path requires a degree. A lot of times these days, it's possible to excel in a career with just an Associate's degree (from a 2-year program) or even just specific technical training. It'd save you tens of thousands of dollars if that's the case.”
Mr. Aaron Peirick suggests that you ask yourself a series of questions: “Does the job you want to do require a college degree? Can you afford to go to college? Will you enjoy college? Will you be able to live away from your family?”
Once you know if college is the path you’d like to take, there are some very important things you should consider when picking your future school.
Ms. McCroskey states that “for [her], it was that there was a wide range of programs and departments within that college. [She] didn't know what [she] wanted to do yet, so [she] wanted to see that there were plenty of options to explore.”
Mr. Doug Peirick says you need to ask yourself, “can I afford the price they want me to pay?”
He also advises students “to consider [the] size of [their] campus and classes, do they have the field of study you’re looking to enter, what are the admissions requirements, location in relation to home, and what are some extracurricular activities that are offered.” He asks that you keep in mind that “those are just a few. Basically you need to find a school where you feel comfortable.”
Adding to his father’s ideas, Mr. Aaron Peirick suggests that you also ask yourself, “Does the school or the town it’s in offer activities that you enjoy outside of school?”
“If the campus is pretty is a fairly stupid reason to choose a college, but I'll admit it-- it factored into my calculations as an 18-year-old,” Ms. McCroskey advises while looking back on her college decision.
Finding the right college is very important. As Ms. McCroskey says, “Your school should be tailored to fit your needs. You need to find the right program, the right classes to earn the right credits that point you in the direction of earning a suitable major for your career. Not all colleges (especially smaller ones) have the capacity to suit you, so you have to do some shopping around first.”
Going with a similar theme, Mr. Doug Peirick suggests that: “if you don't feel comfortable at a particular school, you might not do as well as you could.”
Mrs. Borcherding simply states, “College is expensive. I'd hate to waste tens of thousands of dollars changing your mind.”
Mr. Aaron Peirick reminds students that picking a college just because of their colors or sports teams is not the way to do it.
If you know what major you’d like to study, the college picking process will be easier. However, it is in the best interest of you and your pocket book that you at least have an idea of what you’d like to do.
Of the students who go into college with a major in mind, the majority of them have a few options to pick from. Although, how are they supposed to know which one suits them best?
Mr. Aaron Peirick suggests that you ask yourself: “Will getting a job in that major support the future lifestyle you want to live?”
Furthermore on the topic, he says, “You need to enjoy doing the work that that major entails. [Picking the right major is important because] you will enjoy your college experience more. You will save yourself time, frustration, and money. If you want to look further down the line, you will enjoy your career and the rest of your life more than if you end up doing something you don't enjoy.”
Adding to the list of the questions you should ask yourself, Ms. McCroskey recommends, “Is your major broad enough (or specific enough, in some cases) that it will set you up for finding the right career? Will you be studying the correct things that will help you in the future?”
When explaining why finding the right major is important she says, “If you want to be a forensic scientist, you shouldn't major in English. If you want to be a musician, you shouldn't spend your time in the chemistry labs for 4 years. Potential employers want to see that you've studied something important to your future in that field.”
Mr. Doug Peirick suggests that you focus on: “Your likes and dislikes in life.” Then ask yourself, “Is the career you're looking into going to give you the chance to do what you like to do in a job? Are you going to make enough money to live the lifestyle you want to live? Are you going to be able to buy the vehicle you want, buy the clothes you want, take vacations, have a family, etc.?”
In addition, he says, “You are probably going to be in that career for a long time and you might as well enjoy it, otherwise you will be miserable most of the time.”
As mentioned before, finding the right college for you is a little bit easier when you know what field you want to go into. However, most young adults don’t have a clue what they want to do.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure and expectation these days on kids to pick their major and career as soon as possible-- even as early as high school. That is unhealthy,” Ms. McCroskey reassures students.
“I had friends who knew they wanted to be doctors since they were children, but that’s different,” she shares. “When you begin college, there is such a thing as an ‘exploratory’ or ‘undecided’ major wherein you literally just explore different classes to see what you like. That is a much better way to start if you aren’t sure of your future; the alternative is starting a program you’re unsure about, wasting valuable time pursuing those credits, and then wasting more time after you realize you want to do something different and have to retake classes. More college freshmen need to explore like this at first, in my opinion.”
Ms. McCroskey continues: “My mother was a music major for four years and then decided she wanted to be a doctor. You know what means? She basically redid college. So my ultimate advice is to take up to two years exploring and dabbling in courses you are interested in and slowly hone in on what you want to do. Take the pressure off yourself and enjoy figuring out what makes you happy!”
As I mentioned before, college is not the only option. If you decide college is not for you, that is perfectly alright. If you decide college is for you, I hope these teachers’ advice helps you set your path in motion.