You may be nearing the end of your time in high school or recently graduated and wondering what’s next. No matter your circumstances, getting a higher education can be one of the best decisions you can make for your future. Before you start signing up for a college tour, know that it’s not for everyone. And not every school is the right fit for the college-bound, either.
So how do you know whether college is right for you – and whether a particular university is the right fit as well? Join us as we take a closer look at this important topic.
College can be a life-changing experience. It can serve as a path to a rewarding career as well as broaden your horizons and provide an opportunity to develop lifelong relationships. Still, it’s a significant commitment. Earning an associate’s degree generally takes two years, while a bachelor’s can require twice that or more in some cases. Before you enroll, consider the following.
Depending on your interests, skills, and goals, going to college may not be the best path for everyone. For example, certain lucrative, in-demand fields like plumbing, electrical work, and other applied skills may be best learned at a technical school. These trades can also be learned on the job, including through potential apprenticeships. For people looking to start a career in these fields, college may not be worth it relative to the benefits it brings.
On the other hand, it’s just a fact of the modern economy that many jobs require a college degree. In some cases, this makes sense. Doctors, accountants, scientists, computer programmers, and many others learn vital knowledge and skills in college that underpin their daily activities.
In other cases, some employers simply won’t consider anyone without a degree, regardless of if it’s in a relevant field. For those unsure of their career plans, going to college can help provide at least a basic level of credentialing for future employment.
And that doesn’t even account for one of the most profound career effects of earning a college degree – significantly higher earnings. The Social Security Administration reports that people who complete college make at least half a million dollars more over their lifetimes than those without degrees.
Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past two decades knows college can be expensive. For the 2021-2022 school year, US News and World Report found the average private college costs more than $38,000 per year. Out-of-state public college tuition reached nearly $23,000, with in-state tuition more than $10,000.
Simple math shows you could spend anywhere from $40,000 to more than $150,000 for a four-year degree. And that’s just tuition – you’ll also need to pay for books, room and board, and other assorted expenses.
Still, this shouldn’t entirely deter you from college. Many schools offer generous financial aid programs based on academic merit and financial need. Reach out to any schools you’re considering to learn more about their programs.
Student loans are also available as well, both from private companies and the federal government. These can be invaluable tools to finance your education. But they should be used carefully to ensure you don’t borrow more than your future career could realistically pay back.
Before enrolling, you should also consider your life circumstances. College is a big commitment, whether you’re going full-time or part-time, for a two-year or four-year degree. You’ll have to potentially put other aspects of your life on hold while you work on your education.
Especially considering the costs and potential benefits, you should make sure you have space in your life for college to be one of your top priorities. This won’t be a huge worry to most soon-to-graduate high schoolers. But college may not be the best fit for those with lots of responsibilities at home, those caring for a loved one or a child, and other circumstances.
Thankfully, the advent of remote education and online programs from reputable schools has changed education. This technology has made earning a degree easier for those without much flexibility in their schedule.
College is a wonderful experience for many, but it isn’t for everyone. It can be expensive, time-consuming, and in the end, not worth it to some.
On the other hand, college can be one of the best decisions you make for your future. It can teach you new skills, broaden your intellectual and cultural horizons, and help you develop lifelong friendships. Keep these tips in mind in assessing whether to pursue higher education, and you’ll find making the right decision for you easier than ever!
There’s simply no better way to find out if a specific school, or college in general, is right for you than going to see it for yourself! Just about every college and university offers tours of the campus to help potential students get acquainted with the school and what it has to offer.
Some offer overnight experiences where prospective students can stay over with current ones. Others just provide a look around the campus and the various academic and social facilities.
These college tour guides will be doing their best to pitch their school to you – a welcome change for those eagerly applying for admission and trying to sell themselves to admissions officers.
Preparing questions in advance is an excellent strategy to ensure you’re ready, even after a dazzling college tour. Ask about the campus experience, safety, degree requirements, amenities, career and internship services, and anything else that might interest you. You can find more ideas on this college tour checklist.
Beyond your tour guides, you may also get a better picture of life at the school by asking regular students as well.