Is College Right For You?

Junior year of high school is always a high-anxiety time for students. I remember traveling far and wide with my parents to investigate all the schools on my dream list. At this time in my life, I was Katie Couric’s most dedicated fan, and I was determined to enter the field of journalism. My search of schools was narrowed down to 1 dream school in Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University. After a weekend road trip to the prestigious university with my parents, my heart was set on being accepted to this school.

When I got the letter in the mail, my dreams were devastated. I was not accepted. However, my back up school, Penn State, had accepted my application.  I settled for my back up school and entered into a Public Relations major at Penn State University.

Halfway through the semester I determined my dream was now music, a passion I had followed throughout my school years. By the Spring semester I had dropped out of Penn State, and enrolled at Montclair State University in New Jersey for Music Therapy after a nerve-wracking audition process. By the end of Spring semester I was homesick and now completely unsure what direction I was headed in life.

This story is very similar to some of my classmates, and those who have just finished their first year at college. Unlike the days of our parents, we are overloaded with options for career success. When I came home from New Jersey, I took a full time job and decided to soul search before wasting any more of my parents’ and I’s money.

In our Junior year of high school, we are pushed to go straight into college for a college degree before we lose any of the knowledge we acquired in high school. While this does make sense, and is the course of many, for others it is not a perfect fit. When my peers were graduating with their Bachelor’s Degrees, I was heading back to community college as an adult to complete a degree very different from where I began.

I have no regrets for taking the path that led me through 3 different colleges, numerous full time jobs, and almost 9 moves. It has been an exciting and fun time since graduating high school and I wouldn’t trade my future associate’s degree for any of those memories.

The push for kids to enter college directly after high school is extreme, and not always in the student’s best interest. Many of us felt lost during the process of post high school education.  Some students need a break from the 12 years of public or private education as children. Kids want to see the world, travel, and see what is really out there before they make a decision on their career future.

Many of the people I graduated with in high school, who have their bachelor’s degrees, are now regretting the major they studied. They are considering going back to school for a different degree and switching careers as they discover all the options and feasibility of various career paths. Had they take some time off between high school and college, they may be in a different place in their lives right now.

Not everyone needs time off between high school and college. Some students know exactly what they want, push themselves through to graduate college with honors and enter into great careers. But some need real life direction before making those important decisions.

Some school counselors may not agree, but having lived through college, dropping out of college, and re-entering 6 years later, I feel I am better prepared to make a positive career decision. I encourage students who are determining this major decision time in their life to consider all options of post-high school education and study.  Do not be afraid to take the detours that may lead you to greater success down the road.

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