Hindsight is 20/20: Why You Shouldn’t Wait To Go To College

With high school graduation just a couple months away, you may be getting ready to make the call on whether or not to go straight from high school into college.

Before making this important decision, you might want to consider the benefits of green-lighting the road to college.

Of course, you already know about the biggest reasons to attend college. You know that a college education is a fundamental part of preparing for a “real job” and that many people describe their college years as the best of their life.

However, you may not be familiar with the benefits of striking while the iron is hot—not taking a gap year (or decade, as it often turns out) before entering school.

As someone who waited to complete my college degree, I have been given the ever-so-valuable gift of 20/20 hindsight. Because of this, I’d like to share with you some of the things that make it that much more difficult to attend school later on:

Relationships

Regardless of whether a relationship is good or bad, it can often cause you to lose sight of your goals and priorities—especially when you’re young. And being in one before you enter school can pose the risk of swaying your judgment.

Relationships often cause people to put off school for a few more years (and, frequently, a few more after that), even if you’re lucky enough to be with someone who supports your goals. Realistically, a relationship will make you think twice before you move across the country to attend that school you dreamed of. Plus, relationships naturally progress, adding in other complications (and leading me to the next item on the list).

Kids

Having kids is the most amazing and wonderful experience. But what you might not fully understand is that, once you have them, you (and your dream of college) are often bumped to the bottom of the priority list.

Of course, while the voice in your head telling you to go to college won’t be silenced, it will probably be drowned out by crying babies, carpool instructions, and activity reminders. And if you do take on a college education at this point (and please know that I’m speaking from experience), keep in mind that working on a term paper or studying for a mid-term is hard enough. But when you don’t start until the kids are in bed and the laundry is done, you’re not exactly stacking the deck in your favor.

Financial Obligations

If you go to college right out of high school, you’re probably not going to be driving a brand new car or buying a house. Instead, it’s much more likely that you’ll be conserving your dollars, perhaps by living at home, bunking with roommates, or moving into a dorm. You’re also likely driving a well-loved car or packing a shiny new bus pass. This is what makes going to school affordable.

However, once you’ve entered grown-up land, where you have a mortgage payment, car payment, and every other kind of payment imaginable, odds are that you’ll reconsider leaving the workforce for a few years to earn little or nothing while attending school. And, while the option exists for taking part-time or evening classes, life is much easier when you’re not choosing whether to study for a final or pay the bills.

Fear

If someone had told me this when I was 18, I would have laughed. But, seriously, this is a big one. After you have spent some time in the working world, you begin to hesitate when it comes to taking risks. But when you’re fresh out of school, you’re often eager and fearless. This is an amazing gift. Sadly, many people squander it.

By choosing to go to college right away, you can enjoy the freedom to make mistakes (like changing majors more often than hairstyles) and be adventurous (like signing up for a semester abroad). These are things that you will waver on (or nix outright) after a few years out of school.

Last Words of Advice

While I’m advocating getting an education right out of school, there are a couple of important keys to making it worthwhile:

  • Finish school—even if you really don’t want to. You may decide at some point that you’re not studying in the field that you think you’ll end up in, but sticking out one more semester is going to be worth it in the long run, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
  • Learn. Don’t waste your college years just “enjoying the experience.” That doesn’t mean don’t enjoy it, but it does mean that you should be applying yourself, soaking in everything you possibly can, and getting the most out of your valuable time (and money).

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Jennifer Kwasnicki

Jennifer Kwasnicki

Jennifer Kwasnicki is a career and education writer at www.Trade-Schools.net. When she's not writing, she's balancing schoolwork, marriage, and parenting.
Jennifer Kwasnicki

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