The college years are a time when dreams become realities, people come into their own, foundations are laid for the rest of one’s life. Families are started, careers are founded, networks are built. So much of who we become is built during the college years.
With so much apparently riding on this period of life there is a lot to think about before jumping in. First of all, you may not even know if you should go to college. Just because people refer to them as the college years does not mean that you have to go to college to be successful.
The key is to approach the college decision one step at a time. Let’s start with whether or not you should go to college. There are a lot of alternatives to attending college. College is not the only place where dreams can be made. College is not for everyone. Some people need a bit of time in between high school and college. Other people achieve great success without going to college at all.
- Join the military. The military is an excellent opportunity to get leadership experience. The military does amazing things all over the world. You can learn incredible skills like project management, problem solving, responsibility, self-worth, and much more, all while serving your country in the world’s greatest military. Is it for everyone? Absolutely not! Is a great option for some people? YES!
- Go to a trade school or a vocational school. If you want to learn a particular skill, you can attend a trade school. Learning a “trade” means that you are learning a particular skill set for a specific industry. Do you enjoy working with steaming hot metal? Learn how to become a welder. Do you like working with horses? Become a farrier (someone who puts horseshoes on horses and takes care of horses’ hooves).
- Work. You’re going to college to become a better worker. Why not get some experience working before you start school to help you better understand what it takes to succeed in the workforce? Providing for yourself and your family will give you confidence and a sense of pride. Or start your own business. For a lot of reasons, there is no better time to start a business.
- Go on a mission trip. I spent two years as a missionary in Ukraine after graduating from high school and spending one year at college. This was an incredible opportunity to learn Russian, get to know a different culture, help people out, and explore the world. I learned responsibility, how to overcome challenges and obstacles, how to manage time and resources, and how to interact with people who thought and interacted with the world differently than I did.
- Go to college. Going to college will definitely provide you with experiences that will impact you for the rest of your life. College gives you access to a wide variety of resources. You will have access to everything from business classes to language classes to photography classes to physics classes. You will be part of a group of people that is striving to create something be part of something bigger than the individual people that make it up.
There are many ways to be successful. If you choose not to go to college, that does not mean you won’t be successful. You should think about all the options that are available to you and make a well-thought-out decision.
- Parents: What do you wish you had thought about before deciding to go to college or not go to college?
- Not parents: What questions do you have about attending college?