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Wait to Enroll in College with a Career Plan
Ideally, the only people that should attend college are those that have a pretty clear idea of a career they want to pursue and have determined that a college degree will significantly improve their chances of obtaining that career. People that do not have such a compelling reason for attending college should wait until they do.
Most people also expect that a bachelor’s degree will help them to get a good job, or even that it is required for making a decent living. Historically, college wasn’t intended to prepare you for a job; it was solely for the purpose of self-enrichment. Only in the second half of the twentieth century did a college degree come to be seen as a prerequisite for middle-class jobs. Most degree programs still haven’t changed to accommodate this new expectation, however, and fail to teach students the skills that will actually benefit them in the workplace. There is an abundance of students today majoring in things like ethnic studies and dance who then wonder why their job prospects look little better than those of a high school graduate. While such majors were likely enjoyable to pursue and provided students with their own valuable benefits, they don’t impress most employers much aside from demonstrating the ability to complete college-level work and self-enrichment alone no longer justifies the rising costs of college.
On the other hand, a large percentage of the most in-demand jobs today don’t even require a bachelor’s degree, but they may require another form of postsecondary training. Once a person knows what career they are actually interested in, they may realize that a bachelor’s would be irrelevant to their actual goals.
Therefore, anyone considering college should first develop a very informed idea of what career they want to pursue by completing personality assessments, doing career research, speaking with professionals in the field, etc. Teenagers are definitely not too young to do this, but if they fail to do this during high school, then they should delay college. Far too many students enter college expecting to take a bunch of different classes and have their ideal major and career fall into their lap, but this rarely happens. Instead, students waste money by taking unnecessary classes that delay graduation, only to leave school with a degree that has dismal job prospects.
We should encourage young people to get specific about their reasons for attending college so that students and taxpayers only pay for the classes and the degrees that will most benefit the student. Additionally, fewer young people will flounder as they seek employment for which they are ill suited and poorly qualified. It’s become widely accepted in the U.S. to expect kids to go off to college immediately after high school, and for those that aren’t quite ready, we encourage attending a community college and then transferring to a university to complete a four-year degree. People that don’t complete a bachelor’s degree are ever-so-slightly looked down upon by those that did. It will be hard to change the status quo and reduce that stigma tied to delaying college, but an excellent case can be made for postponing college entrance.