By Tyler St.Clair
As you work your way through high school, there is the constant question of “what am I going to do after I graduate?” in the back of everyone's minds. Once junior and senior year come around, the question becomes a more pressing one and you must make a decision. Some go right into the workforce, some go to the military, some go to trade schools, and some continue their education by going to college.
Going to college or a university is by far the most popular path. According to the United States Department of Labor, in 2016 69.7% of high schoolers that graduated in the spring enrolled in college the following fall. Is this due to the fact that all of these students want to go and further their education, or are they being pressured by their teachers, counselors, and parents?
College is a great opportunity for everyone and is now more readily available to everyone due to increasing financial aid opportunities. With that being said, college is still expensive. According to collegedata.com, the average 2017-2018 academic year at a public school was about $25,000 and was about $51,000 at a private school. With the average student receiving around $12,000 in financial aid, that still leaves more than $13,000 that falls on the student, and that’s just for one out of the four total years the student will be there. So what about online college courses?
Online classes are a great way to provide further education for those that can’t pack up their lives and move to a campus for four years. There is an ever-increasing number of online universities and classes that are able to offer the same level of education as going to a college campus. Though the average cost per credit hour, cost of books and supplies are about the same between being on campus and taking the course online, taking the online course is a great way to save money. By taking it online, you don’t have to pay for housing which is a large chunk of the tuition you pay to go to a campus (about $5,000). You can also save a great amount on food and transportation. Overall, at the end of your academic year, according to affordablecollegesonline.org, your total will be about half of the on-campus college cost if you take the alternative online courses.
Many students feel pressured into going to college either by their parents or teachers and even some of their friends. Going to college has become a social norm and you tend to be looked down upon if you decide not to go. College should not become something you do just because thats what youre supposed to do; it should be viewed as an opportunity to continue your education as you please, not something that’s necessary in order to become successful. College is not for everyone and that is perfectly okay. No one should feel pressured into going if they have other plans of what they want to do with their life.
Many students are able to go directly into the workforce with skills that they have obtained throughout their high school career. Many come out of high school with welding skills, carpentering skills, car mechanic skills, and so many more that enable them to find a job right away and make a great living from doing so. Some feel it is their duty to defend their nation and decide to go straight into the military which should always be a respected decision. And those that were not able to obtain labor skills in high school have the opportunity to go to a trade school and learn welding skills or car mechanic skills. While trade schools can still be pricey (averaging about $33,000 per degree/certificate), they are cheaper than the average college or university and may be more geared towards what you truly want to do instead of going to college just to figure out what you want to do.
There are so many different paths that you can choose to take in your life after high school, and college is only one of the many directions. Explore what you truly love and what you truly want to do for the rest of your life; don’t waste your time and money going to college if you want to work with cars or weld or join the military or go right into the workforce. College is a great option for some people, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to go in order to be happy and successful. There are plenty of options out there for you to explore that may make more sense for you. Don’t go to college because your teachers want you to or because your parents want you to; consider all of your options and make a decision that best suits you.