Six Bad Reasons to Go to College
There are plenty of good reasons to go to college—but college isn’t for everyone, and one life path isn’t for everyone, either. Many students don’t give much thought to why they enroll in college—they simply do it because they’ve been brought up to expect to go. However, college is expensive these days—the average college graduate left school with over $23,300 in debt, as of 2011. So college is an expensive decision—and making a mistake in choosing to go to college is increasingly pricey. Don’t make the mistake of choosing the wrong college—or making the wrong decision to go to college at all. Here are a few wrong reasons to choose to go to college.
Because all your friends are doing it
Some people choose to go to a certain online university because that’s where a few or most of their high school friends are going. That’s generally not a good idea. College is, for traditional students and sometimes for non-traditionals as well, a time to branch out, escape your regular peer group, and find out who else you can be. The friends you have in high school may not share the same interests you want to pursue in college—and
may not want the same things. Choose a school to pursue your
interests—not to stay with your friends.
Because everyone expects you to
Your best strategy is to go to a college that appeals to you, to study what you want, and to pursue your own dreams—or to pursue those dreams outside of college, if that’s the right path.
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Because it’s a great place to party
For traditional students, college can offer a newfound sense of freedom—and that often includes freedom to drink, party, and stay out all night with no curfew. For students who are used to anxious parents curtailing their freedom, the sudden freedom of college can be addicting. However, it’s not a good reason to go. You can always get a job, get an apartment of your own, and party on your own without getting into $20,000 or more in student debt.
Because your boyfriend or girlfriend is going
Most high school relationships don’t last forever. Yours might be the exception—but if it’s meant to be, it will last through the years of separation in college. Don’t go to a school just because your high school sweetheart is going there. Choose a school that fits your interests. And, if it should happen that you break up, it’s best to be at a school where you won’t run into them on campus or be on the intramural baseball team with them.
Because you’re not sure what else to do
Many people go to school without a clear idea of what they want to do—and for traditional students, college is often the time to “find themselves.” But in this economy, “finding yourself” is an expensive reason to go to school. If you’re a nontraditional student with kids and a job, it’s most cost-efficient to go to school because you need a degree to move forward in your field—and you know exactly which degree you need. But even more traditional students should give some thought to what they want beforehand—so they don’t wind up having to transfer or switch programs later on.
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Because it will land you a high-paying job
It’s true that high school grads make less than college graduates—often a lot less. But getting a online college degree is no guarantee of a high-paying job, either—frequently, your paycheck will depend on the industry you choose. If you’re just after a paycheck, there are careers out there in which you can earn decent money without a college degree. Instead, choose to go to college to pursue an interest. You might find that your passion is something like teaching or social work, which may not pay that much, but may be personally satisfying to you.
College won’t keep your high school relationships together. Most high school students find they want the freedom to pursue different interests and identities in college—a freedom they wouldn’t have if they simply chose to follow all their friends or their significant other. College won’t provide you with an easy ticket to a lucrative job, either—not in this economy. And it won’t guarantee happiness or even the career you want. Your best strategy is to go to a college that appeals to you, to study what you want, and to pursue your own dreams—or to pursue those dreams outside of college, if that’s the right path.
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