All of my life I heard that I need good grades to get into college and you need to go to college to earn a decent living. While I do believe that you need to get a good education if you want to earn a decent living, I do believe that it’s OK if you wait to go to college.
First off, most teenagers I know (and my friends when I was a teenager) have no idea what they want to do with their lives. Sure we all have a general idea, but how many people do you know that wanted to be employed in a specific profession are doing so today? Not because they wanted to be a doctor but couldn’t cut it, but those that simply changed their minds? Most of my friends are doing something different than what they thought they wanted to when they were a teen. For example, I have a buddy that wanted to be a police officer for the longest time, and put off going to college right out of high school. After working at Boys and Girls Club of America for a couple years, he got promoted and decided to get an online degree in social work. He enjoyed the work, had an opportunity to advance, and felt compelled to provide help and hope to the inner city kids he was working with. He no longer wants to be a police officer. So I say, wait to go to college. You’ll grow and change, and save money, in the time you are figuring yourself and your future out.
The average debt from recent college graduates today is around $25,000. Yes you hear of the horror stories of those with close to six figures of student loan debt, but those are the outliers. You hear about them because the media sensationalizes them. Why go into debt, or work your behind off to avoid student loan debt if you aren’t sure what you want to do with your life?
Instead, you would be better off getting a job and attending a community college. There, you can take classes for much less money as you figure things out. If you decide that you want to go to college for what you had wanted to, you still can. And, you won’t have lost too much time as many of the classes you took at the community college will transfer to the four year college, assuming your grades are good.
Another possibility is to simply get a job in the field you think you want to work in. You will be starting out at the lowest rung on the ladder, but you will be doing a few things: earning a paycheck, making a name for yourself if you work hard, and getting to see if the profession and you are a fit. If you find that it is, ideally the company will offer some sort of education reimbursement to defray the costs of going to school. It may take you longer than four years to earn your degree, but not having to pay for all or even a part of the cost is worth it. Plus, this way, you know you’ll have a job when you graduate.
When I was a senior in high school, my mom encouraged me to start out at a community college before going to a four year school. I didn’t listen and ended up changing majors in my sophomore year. I still was able to finish in year years due to the fact that my minor became my major. I graduated with around $17,000 in student loans and worked hard to pay them off afterwards.
While nothing is written in stone, have an open mind about what you want to do, college and its costs. Maybe you would be better off waiting, maybe not. But it’s your decision.