Step 1: To College or Not to College
Most people think that the first step to choosing a college(s) is research. If that’s what you are doing right now, stop. Stop before you dig yourself into a deeper hole of despair, constantly questioning your worth in life and never escaping out of this brutal cycle. So what is the first step you ask? Simple. You have to answer this question: Do I go to college or not?
Now hold up, a lot of people right now are probably getting riled up. “What kind of question is that?!” “Of course you have to go to college!” “How else are you going to succeed in life??” OK I lied. Step .5: quit believing all these lies. I for one do not believe in statistics because numbers and graphs can be easily manipulated depending on the source. But statistically speaking yes, enrolling in college and getting a degree increases your “success” in life whether it equates to higher wages or a career that requires a specific degree, but that doesn’t mean you are required to go to college. There’s many different factors that people have to consider before making this big decision. Sometimes the timing isn’t right, you love the job you’re working at and it’s going to be a difficult choice, financial reasons can delay starting college until the money is saved up. I know a few of my classmates who have gap years until they figure out what they want to do with their lives. The other thing to consider before answering this question is this: is it practical? If you’re happy with your coal mining job, Saturday night saxophone gigs, babysitting puppies, fixing up cars in your auto shop, or chatting with customers being the well loved bartender, maybe college isn’t your calling. But if you want to be a teacher, lawyer, vet, historian, electric engineer, or surgeon, 9.99 times out of 10 you’ll have to have some sort of degree and some require even higher levels of degrees and certifications.
Based on what you just read above, you might think I’m discouraging you to go to college, but that’s not the case. I encourage ALL of you to go to college. I believe as the world advances and changes, it should almost be a necessity, not to just learn and develop, but experience, understand, and appreciate views different from your own. Next to the actual education, the second most valuable thing I received from the Academy was a chance to be cultured and more accepting to opposing opinions. Having this invaluable tool of awareness and acceptance is valuable no matter where you go in the future. That said, if being more cultured and educated is important to you (which should be for everyone) then college is definitely the way to go. Aside from that though, the search for college is really more a search for yourself. I know this sounds deep and something a horoscope or Tumblr quote would say, but it is true. The world is yours. It really is, but only those who know what they want and understand themselves will be able to control it.
So what do I mean by discovering yourself? I mean you have to ask yourself, what do you really want out of life? And if you really can’t answer that question fully it’s fine. If you have too many things to list that’s fine too. But you should really have some grasp of what you want. Whether that want is to travel the world, to be rich, a specific profession, to help those in need, to be famous, a professional gamer, or serving your country, you should at least have some ideas down. Sure most colleges are really good at providing undecided majors to their students, but then it becomes less about what you really want and you’ll be guided with only what they can offer you. Plus you could’ve used that extra year or two to get a head start to pursue what you really enjoy. Don’t get me wrong, these kinda choices are tough and sometimes we just can’t choose because we have too many choices or the right one that fits our desires just hasn’t appeared yet.
Food for a Thought
Here’s an analogy, you go to an ice cream shop (provided you’re not lactose intolerant or just hate ice cream) and there’s fifteen flavors: orange, chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, mint, Oreo, peanut butter, peach, cookies and cream, birthday cake… (you get the idea right?) You really, really like 4 of the flavors, would definitely enjoy 4 others, wouldn’t mind 4 of them and hate the rest of the 3. It becomes tough right? Even if you could get one scoop of the first 4 flavors, it’s probably doable, adding the next 4? Pretty impressive. The next 4? Almost impossible. See? The reality is that you’ll only end up choosing one or two of them in the end given the practicality and limited resources. Unless you were rich enough then I guess you could just buy the whole ice cream shop and don’t have to worry. But just because you choose one flavor today, doesn’t mean you can’t choose a different one tomorrow. Just because you don’t think being a full time writer is what you want, doesn’t mean you can’t pick it up as a side hobby. Just because you’re a full time musician doing gigs every weekend, doesn’t mean you can’t invent the next big thing. Don’t be afraid to try out new flavors or combine ones that don’t seem to work together.
On the other hand, undecided majors can help narrow down choices for you. Let’s say same ice cream shop, but they only have vanilla and chocolate. That’s easy right? A lot easier in fact. You can have either vanilla or chocolate. You can not have either, or if you can’t have it, then the decision is already made for you. Sometimes narrowing down choices can help make your decision process easier. Then again, maybe the right flavor (choice) hasn’t even come to you yet. Maybe there is a secret kiwi-strawberry snow cone they serve by special request only and that’s your flavor. You don’t have to be content with what is already there, sometimes it takes a little extra work and time to find exactly what you have been looking for. So reader, go out and discover things that make you happy, discover those new, wonderful flavors, and before you start discovering colleges, start discovering yourself.
Best of luck,
If you want to read this series, here’s the links to them: