Should I Go To College After High School?

A lot of high school students and their parents view college as the natural progression after high school…

but before you rush off to fill out those college applications, now might be a good time to figure out if a 4-year college is right for you, and really ask yourself, “should I go to college after high school?”

As I mentioned in my post, How Students Can Quickly Research Careers, deciding whether or not to go to college is a huge decision.

Before making such a decision, students must actively consider and research various career options.  You can’t really determine if college is right for you until you come up with a list of potential careers that interest you.

Should I Go To College After High School?

  • Parents & School Counselors Can Help You

While figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life can be scary, your parents and school counselors can help you with this process. If your high school guidance counselors or parents seem more interested in your GPA, standardized test scores, and recommendation letters, challenge them to see the bigger picture and don’t be afraid to ask them, “should I go to college after high school?”

Instead of just focusing on academics and extracurricular activities, counselors and parents should really be helping you choose the “right” college or trade school based on your career interests! Your ultimate goal should be to leave high school in the best position to pursue a career that you’re most interested in. After you’ve taken the time to evaluate your career interests, then you can decide if college is right for you.

  • But, Don’t I “Need” A College Education

Possibly; it just depends on what you want to do. A 4-year degree is not absolutely necessary. In fact, there are millions of people in the world who are earning a living and having successful careers who do not have a 4 year degree.

As I mentioned in other posts, if your goal is to become a hair stylist, flight attendant, or auto repair mechanic, then a traditional 4-year college isn’t the right choice for you.

However, if you decide to become a teacher, accountant, or nurse, then a traditional 4-year college is probably the best route, assuming the school you chose to attend offers these specific majors.

The key to obtaining gainful employment is having the skills that are in demand, not just a 4 year degree. I dive into more detail on this topic in my post, 5 Secrets To Getting A Job After Collegebut back to the topic at hand, let’s teach you how you can research careers.

  • Where Can I Research Careers?

My favorite website is the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yes, I know the name might be kind of intimidating but the website is very easy to use. The site basically provides a lot of information on the current job market and various careers. The best place to go is to the websites’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook will tell you everything you need to know about any career, so that you can determine “should I go to college after high school.” You can get information on the following topics:

  • Training & Education Requirements
  • Salary Information
  • Job Projections (i.e. is the field expected to grow over the next few years or not)
  • Daily Job Responsibilities
  • Expected Working Conditions
  • Job Search Tips

How Can I Find It? To locate the Occupational Outlook Handbook, click here:

If you want step-by-step instructions on how to use the website, then visit my post: How Students Can Quickly Research Careers.

  • An Important Message for Parents…


If you force your kids to go to a traditional 4 year college without:

  • A) Exploring different career options with them; and/or
  • B) Allowing them to pursue careers that do not require a 4 year education…

They’ll like wind up performing poorly in their classes, flunking out, or just dropping out on their own after a couple semesters.

Don’t waste your money! When your kids ask you, “should I go to college?”…take them seriously!

Take the time to talk with them and come up with a game plan. A lot of high school students allow their parents or counselors to pressure them into enrolling in college, when they simply didn’t have it in them.

I’ve seen this happen in my own family and in the families of others close to me, so here’s my advice to you – take the information presented in this post and put it to good use! “Should I go to college?” is a question that every high school student should ask themselves, so don’t freak out!

If you have questions, comments, or feedback on this post, I’d love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below!

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Lauren Anderson is a certified school counselor who's passionate about helping students all over the world successfully transition from high school to college! After spending 6 years as a business professional, she obtained her Master’s degree in School Counseling and now spends her spare time helping students.

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