There are plenty of good reasons to go to college. Unfortunately, a lot of young adults today don’t use them. Instead, they pull out some well-worn, but very bad, reasons. Here are some of my favorites:
9. Student discounts
That hallowed student status comes with some perks, one of them is discounts on everything from computer software to theme parks and newspapers. (Yes, newspapers… for some reason.) Student discounts can save you hundreds of dollars, but college costs you thousands to get that perk. If discounts are what you’re after, you’re better off clipping coupons than investing in college.
8. To delay adulthood
For some, college is a great way to prolong adolescence and defer responsibility (at least until those student loans kick in). Thought of college sparks a renaissance of childhood in which Disney movies and naps reign supreme, as do art classes, hilarious pranks, and staying up late. But making it easy now may make life hard later, when you’re struggling to make that credit card payment, fighting bad habits, and wrestling with those pesky minimum-wage job applications.
7. To be cool
For some, college is all about the social experience and looking like you belong. The epitome of the college “scene” involves lounging at a coffee shop with your laptop and looking hip and trendy to your fellow Starbucks study-ers. Although this may seem alluring, making a significant life decision just to look cool is about as bad in the long run as choosing your school because the colors wear well on you.
6. All my friends are going
Every year, social media lights up as the graduating seniors embarked on the college application process and start receiving their acceptance letters. It is an exciting time that makes the graduates glow with pride and garners many “congratulations!” from their family and friends. It’s easy to feel left out. Whether they have a good reason or not shouldn’t define your reason for going. College can and should be about getting you equipped to live out a clearly-defined sense of purpose, not following the crowd.
5. To get away from my annoying family
If your parents drive you crazy and you can’t seem to get away from that pesky brother or sister, college is the answer! Put as much distance between yourself and them as possible. Sweep all your problems under the rug so you don’t have to deal with them. Just remember: it’s possible to get all A’s in school and flunk on relationships. Oh, and when your roommate is playing Rock Band at four in the morning and piling dirty dishes in the sink… you might wish you had your family back.
4. So I could get a scholarship and only borrow $80K instead of $100k
You spent months researching scholarships and writing great essays. How can you possibly let all that “free money” go to waste? You did the work for it. And at least it’s not as expensive as it would have been if you hadn’t earned any scholarships. Reality check: debt is debt and it’s possible to “go broke saving money.” College shouldn’t be a debt sentence.
3. You don’t know what else to do
Don’t know what to do with your life? Go to college! It will have all the fun of running in the dark when you have no clue where you are. Just be forewarned: many colleges won’t even try to help direct you. After all, it’s your money. They don’t mind if you spend an extra year (or ten) figuring everything out. After all, why should they care that about 80% of college students change their majors? They’re running an institution, not a charity.
2. To get a guaranteed a job
Aunt Myrtle told you getting a degree would guarantee you a good job. College degrees can help but what also matters are the life skills you’ve built during your degree, as well as your portfolio of experience. Some degrees help with that; others do not. In her defense, when Aunt Myrtle told you to chase your dreams, she might not have known you wanted to major in Bowling Management and minor in Puppetry….
1. For the “college experience”
Most people speak fondly and respectfully of the “college experience.” You’ll see. When your friends come home for winter break, they will have such exciting, adventurous stories to tell about their new life—whether it’s about the campus-wide humans vs. zombies game, the frat house party, or the roommate who loudly grinds his teeth in his sleep. Their stories will be funny, interesting, and compelling. It’ll be tempting to believe them when they say you need to experience it to believe it.
There are plenty of good reasons to go to college. But too often, teenagers make college decisions like the ones above and live to regret it. By approaching your education thoughtfully and intentionally, with a clear sense of purpose, you can successfully dodge these pitfalls and get a world of value and opportunities from your college years.
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Misha is an Unbound graduate who has a passion for working with students. When she’s not spending time with students, she’s often practicing French, dreaming of travel, playing indoor soccer, or drinking tea.Read more by Misha