College is the standard path for American kids today. It is a given that you should graduate from high school and transition directly into a four-year college program. Kids assume that is where they are headed and that their choices don’t begin until it comes time to decide which college. Teachers operate off of the basis that children are striving for college and that they should be. The American dream can only be achieved with a college degree. Obviously.
I have compiled a list of myths about college. The purpose is to help you realize the ideas you believe about secondary education, as well as offer some ways of thinking outside societal norms.
Myth #1 — College is mandatory
Ok, let’s get this one out of the way right at the start. College is in no way mandatory. You get to choose if you want to attend college and you should make that decision after lots of thought about what you want in life, not simply assume that it is a given next step. College is not a must-have step on your way to the life you want. Skipping college does not mean you will never work anywhere besides McDonald’s or that you are doomed to live in your parents’ basement until you are 50. College is a choice. It has its perks and is often chosen due to those but it is not a required step in the game of life
College is not a must-have step on your way to the life you want.
Myth #2 — Ivy League schools are the same as state schools
This myth is a bit of misrepresentation. In terms of the actual education, 9 times out of 10 Ivy League schools are no better than going to your local 4-year state institution. Where Ivy League schools shine is their network, their prestige, and their name. If you put that you have a degree from the University of Maine or the University of North Carolina on a resume, the person looking at you for a job is not going to care. However, if you put that you have a degree from Yale on your resume, the hiring manager is going to give your resume a much harder look than before. Your knowledge may be the same, your degree may be the same but the name alone will open some doors for you. You will have to decide if that is worth the Ivy League price tag.
Where Ivy League schools shine is their network, their prestige, and their name.
Myth #3 — College is 4 years of work
If you get done in 4 years, you are doing amazing sweety. The average time nowadays is closer to 5 years. Most programs cannot be fit into a 4-year time frame unless you get very lucky, are very dedicated, and are fairly well adept academically. Do not feel bad about taking longer than 4 years. This is normal. You should probably plan for it and calculate it into your plans when looking at payments.
Do not feel bad about taking longer than 4 years.
Myth #4 — Getting loans to pay for college is easy
This is another slight misrepresentation. Getting loans to pay for college is easy, very easy, too easy. At 18 you will be able to take out a $100,000 loan for your schooling. They won’t ask what you are studying or how you plan to pay it back. But eventually, you will have to pay it back. It will not matter if you got an MD from U of A or a BS from Harvard. You will have to pay back what you borrowed, plus interest. If you got a Master’s in English and are making $40,000 a year, you still have to pay it back. If you got a Bachelors in Engineering and are making $100,000 a year, you still owe it. If you got halfway through, dropped out, and are now working at the mall, you still have to make those payments. Be cautious of what you are signing your future self up for because those loans will not go away regardless of how well or how badly your future career turns out.
But eventually, you will have to pay it back.
Myth #5 — Going directly from high school to college is the best way to do it
It might be if you know what you want. Do you know what you want to study? Have you thought about what jobs you would want to have when you get the degree? Have you done an internship, shadowed people, actually seen a day in the life of the career you want? If you don’t know what career to pursue, why would going in and studying random different things at the cost of thousands of dollars a year be a good use of your time? Why not try things out in the real world first to get an idea before going to school to get the needed skills? Do not use college as an expensive playground just because everyone else went straight there after high school. An extra year at home experimenting with jobs and internships can put you lightyears ahead. Learn what makes you happy and where you want to end up while also saving you thousands.
Do not use college as an expensive playground just because everyone else went straight there after high school.
- College is optional
- Ivy League is about prestige and network, not the education
- College is generally going to take longer than 4 years
- Loans for college are a big deal
- Don’t jump into college with no plan just because everyone else does
I hope you found some of these helpful. College can be a wonderful experience or an awful one and a lot depends on your planning and mindset going into it. Doing something just because people tell you it is the thing to do is a wonderful way to end up regretting your choices. Look at your options and know that deciding for yourself makes you smart, not weak. Best of luck in your college endeavors.