If you informed your parents that you were going to put off college to become a master at martial arts, what do you think they would say? As students make final decisions about college choices, some parents may find their children’s choices are not in line with their own. Some parents may end up disappointed, possibly embarrassed, and fearful for their child’s future.
Most parents have preached the need for a four-year degree to accomplish the “American dream”. This is not reality for everyone. According to the latest information available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only two thirds of high school seniors will enroll in college next fall. It is estimated that only 30% of jobs today actually require a four-year degree.
This is not to say that parents shouldn’t be concerned. Potential earnings are greatly influenced by a college degree. Those with a college degree earned on average $54,689 in 2005. Those with a high school diploma earned only $29,448.This is a difference of over a million dollars over a 40 year career. This is not to say that you will not do well without a college degree. There are many people who do.
So what do you do if you are certain you do not want to attend college? Think everything through before presenting your ideas to your parents. They’ll want evidence that your decision is well thought out and not just an impulsive act. Be prepared for them to challenge you. For every possible problem they point out, be prepared with possible solutions. Make sure to be respectable when they voice their opinions.
It can be quite expensive to go to college and then drop out if your career path doesn’t require college. Who knows, after working awhile for $10 an hour, you may decide college is for you. Maybe you’ll decide that you do want an education, but not at a four-year school. Vocational colleges are a viable alternative. Our culture tends to demean the trades, which is a shame. Many students are better suited and more interested in professions learned at vocational schools. The reality is that it is difficult to know how to challenge oneself, especially at such an unsettled time of life.
There are some students that finish high school so burned out that they choose not to head straight to college. For these students, deferring college for a year might be a solution. A long-held tradition in the UK commonly called a gap year is gaining favor in the U.S. Gap programs tend to be highly structured and may involve internships, course work, and volunteerism around the globe. Some students choose to travel, others learn a foreign language, and some check out a potential career.
Whether you go straight to college, take a break, or never pursue a degree, you will have many opportunities. These opportunities should be used to develop into a person who is independent, productive, and moral. Your plan should be focused, with meaningful goals. It should lead to personal growth and a renewed perspective on the world and the value of education. It’s not enough to just “hang out”.
Colleges are starting to recognize that students who do something worthwhile the year between high school and college arrive on campus ready to learn. They are inquisitive and can think independently. They often have a wider understanding of the outside world and the people in it.
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